What Do You Do
With a Tail Like This?

by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page's What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

Animal identification for kids

Well, the encyclopedia is dead. The internet has replaced it.

Kids and parents - and kids working with parents - are taking it upon themselves to find information on what interests them.

I know a lot of YouTube parents. When a child shows an interest in something, it's off to YouTube to enhance that interest.

I think that's great. But the interest has to start somewhere, and where better than a book?

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? is a perfect book for stoking interests. Here's how it works...

Husband/wife author-illustrators Jenkins and Page give a two page spread featuring the chosen part of a variety of different, interesting animals.

For instance, tails.

There's a pink, pointy one. There's a long curly one. There's a fluffy, black and white striped one.

Turn the page and you get to meet the tails' owners.

A scorpion. A monkey. A skunk.

Some animals will be familiar, some not. In each case, the authors offer a simple, sentence-long utilitarian explanation of the tail. Then, at the end of the book, each animal gets a more encyclopedic exploration. Then...

When you detect a strong interest, it's time to move on to the internet. I mean, who with a functioning brain doesn't want to see what the rest of a real star-nosed mole looks like???

Not that Page and Jenkins' pictures aren't absolutely stunning. They won the duo a 2004 Caldecott Honor. Their cut paper collages are exquisitely detailed, and you'll find yourself feeling the page just to make sure the layered paper isn't there to be felt.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? is terrific because it isn't passive entertainment. It engages the mind. You'll be asking your child, "Whose nose is that?" and "What do you think it does?" And s/he'll be answering!

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