What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran

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What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Fun, educational, and at times disgusting ( but in a good way) this book encourages children to imagine what it would be like to have various animal abilities to behaviours.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books
ISBN: 978-1780550428

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Most experts recommend that children have a wide selection of both fiction and non fiction texts available at home, and boys in particular often show a marked preference for non- fiction. My own sons do enjoy both, but I have to admit they do have a much stronger appetite for non fiction than I would have had at their ages. My oldest in particular repeatedly requests books about things that are real. This book is non fiction, but it has many characteristics of fiction as well, making this ideal for children who enjoy either genre. It is completely factual, and will teach children about science and nature while they read, but it is also very light hearted and humorous. I do feel this book could appeal to both sexes, but the target audience in my opinion would be boys. There is plenty of toilet humour, disgusting facts, and a few slightly creepy ideas which are certain to appeal to boys. I would recommend this book for ages 7 -12. That said, my four year old really enjoyed this as well, and I feel many younger children will delight in this book if an adult is willing to read it to them, but I feel the smaller text and advanced vocabulary will make this difficult for most children under age 7 to read independently.

'What If Humans Were More Like Animals' takes various unusual animal attributes and imagines what it would be like if humans had an equivalent behaviour, ability, or physical feature. For instance, if we had teeth like a shark, we wouldn't have to worry about eating too many sweets, brushing our teeth, or even chomping down on a hard object. Whenever a tooth fell out, a new one would take its place. If we had the comparative strength of a Hercules beetle, we could lift a double decker bus, and if we could jump the equivalent of a froghopper insect, we'd be able to leap over sky scrapers with ease. Not all of the animal traits would be so much fun though. We wouldn't want our parents to eat us if we were not as strong as our siblings like the vole, and while eyes on our hands like a starfish might have a few advantages, it would be very awkward as well - who wants to pick things up with their eyes?

My sons especially liked the sections on super smelly defense skills. My 8 year old liked facts about abilities , such as the fact that a sail fish could swim faster than a motor boat. The 4 year old especially liked the part about giraffes drinking each other's pee and magpies sorting through feces for food. A number of other facts raised a giggle. But some facts were a bit too gross for the youngest, or perhaps cruel, such as the hagfish eating its prey from the inside out. This may upset very sensitive animal lovers - and if your child hasn't quite figured out where meat comes from yet, or is teetering on the edge of going vegetarian while the rest of the family is quite carnivorous, you might want to leave this book for a few more years. I think a few other sections would have been big hits, if the boys were not already familiar with these facts from other books, and my sons are admittedly a tough audience for a book that relies to some extent on surprising children with unknown facts.

Each feature is written up in a short paragraph, with a simple black and white cartoon illustration to match. My children did find some of these quite funny, but they frequently asked what the animal mentioned looks like. We had to look up caecilians, tardigrades and flukes. I do realise colour photographs are beyond the scope of this type of book but even an insert of a few pages of photographs would have been brilliant. Also, the facts listed are quite short and do not take other differences into account. For instance, even if we did have sucker feet like a sucker foot bat, it wouldn't do us much good. As my son pointed out - our body weight would simply be too much for a feature like this to work.

Overall, I quite liked this book. It is fun , educational and easy to read for an older child. My 8 year old said he would give this 4 stars as he did enjoy it, and it was easy read. My youngest thinks this book should get 5 stars, citing an illustration of a boy with a mouth on his stomach like a starfish happily eating while he sleeps (I think the idea of being able to sleep and eat at the same time appeals to him). I've gone with 4½. It is a very good book, and I've already priced other books in this series, but it hasn't inspired quite the amount of passion in either boy that would lead me to give it a 5 star rating. But if you are you looking for a good children's book that combines humour with facts, especially for children who like the odd, unusual, and a bit of the grotesque, this book is a very good choice.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy:

Will Jellyfish Rule the World? by Leo Hickman

Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy

The Beastly Best Bits (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

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Buy What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Paul Moran at Amazon.com.


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