Dad: Yea! We finally tackle some non-fiction. Today we are looking at 3 books in a series: "Life-Size Zoo," "More Life-Size Zoo," and "Life-Size Aquarium."
Gracie (age 10): The books show life-size pictures of animals and they give you really neat facts.
Isaac (age 12): It's like going to the zoo. The books tell you what animals do during the day, and the animals are the exact size you would see them at the zoo.
Dad: But even better, because you wouldn't get that close to an animal's face in real life.
Isaac: It's like we have two zoos and an aquarium in our house right now.
Lily (age 7): It's a Home Zoo.
Isaac: It's a whole zoo in your hands.
Dad: Tell me about the size of the books...
Isaac: They are really big. Since the animals are life-size, they need the books to be big so you can see as much of the animal as you can. And some of the pages fold open, and there is a huge animal. One page folds out a bunch of times, and it turns into a huge lion face -- it's so awesome.
Dad: Can you imagine sitting right in front of that lion?
Dad: Why don't we take one book at a time, and you guys each highlight one animal inside. First up, "Life-Size Zoo." Go ahead, Gracie...
Gracie: The giant panda is smaller than I expected. But it still has a really big head. His face is bigger than mine. I already knew a lot about pandas -- there are a lot of interesting facts about them. This panda's name is Kou Kou. For each animal, the book tells you its name, its gender, its age, and its scientific name.
Isaac: My animal is the ceratotherium simum.
Dad: Which is a...?
Isaac: Rhinoceros. My cool fact is that their horns are made up of hair. They are not bone. They are bundles of hairs all smashed together. I never knew that until I read this book.
Dad: And you can actually see the hairs in this giant photo.
Isaac: Yes. And it is very gross. You can see every little detail and every piece of mud. This page folds out. It is a huge, huge, huge picture of a rhinoceros. But even though it folds out, the only things that can fit are his horn and his eyeball and his skin. Because it's life-size.
Lily: I have Carol the Zebra. That's a big head. She is 10 years old. Her scientific name is equ.... blah.
Dad: Equus quagga burchelli.
Lily: Blech. That's a bad name. I like "Carol." Carol has a lot of black and white stripes. There are hairs around her mouth, and it helps her find food.
Gracie: Dad, do you find food with the hair on your chin?
Lily: There are three kinds of zebras. A plains zebra, a grevy's zebra, and a mountain zebra. Do mountain zebra's live on mountains?
Dad: Maybe. Those ones probably live on the mountains, and these ones live on the plains. And these ones live in gravy.
Lily: Awww! I don't want to eat gravy now.
Dad: You never know if a zebra's been wading in your gravy.
Dad: Now, on to "More Life-Size Zoo." Isaac, what animal are you going to tell us about?
Isaac: Bats. I learned that the ends of bat wings are actually hands. They have a little claw thing at the top, but that's their thumb. All their fingers are hooked into their wings so they can open and shut them.
Dad: It's almost like animals that have webbed fingers. But here, the webbing is their wings.
Lily: I didn't know that!
Dad: Do you remember when we saw a bat at our old house?
Gracie: There were two bats.
Dad: Did you ever look at them after I caught them?
Isaac: No. We were too freaked out.
Elijah (age 5): I loved it!
Dad: You don't remember that!
Isaac: You were a baby.
Dad: Your turn Lily. Tell us about an animal...
Lily: Wolves are white, gray, and brown.
Dad: Not just one color? Patchy?
Lily: Yep. And his tongue can go all the way up and touch his nose -- like you, Dad.
Dad: Like me?
Lily: Only his tongue can clean his whole nose.
Dad: I couldn't clean my whole nose, could I. And if I was going to clean my nose, I probably would not use my tongue.
Lily: When he eats, he uses his teeth to go right into the skin by the bone and r-r-r-riiiip it out! He has really sharp teeth. And to show that they love each other, wolves bite each other.
Dad: I love you, Lily. I want to give you a nibble.
Dad: Why did you pick the wolf?
Lily: Because I love him! He's cute. And I like his name. Kinako... Kinako... my Kinako. He's bad, but I love him.
Gracie: I'm going to tell you about a vombatus ursinus. A wombat.
Dad: You guys really like looking at those scientific names, huh?
Gracie: Yes. I really do. A wombat has a face like a koala, a body like a bear, and claws like a mole. He's kind of cute. Ish. Except his nose. His whole entire body fits on the page except for one tuffet of hair on his head. When he's getting attacked, he just digs a hole and goes down in it.
Dad: Why did you pick this one out?
Gracie: Because he has a really big fancy scientific name. And plus, I know nothing about wombats even though I often use the word "wombat" in everyday sentences.
Dad: Give me an example.
Gracie: "You are such a wombat, Lily!"
Dad: You mean she's cute and cuddly?
Gracie: I don't usually mean it like that.
Lily: That's another insult!
Dad: Elijah, you had an animal from this book that you wanted to share...
Dad: What did you learn about the okapi?
Elijah: Not just his legs look like a zebra, but his tail does too.
Dad: He also has a fancy tongue.
Elijah: He has a white tongue. He can stick his whole tongue out to lick his eye. (Holding up his hands) His tongue could be this big.
Dad: Yes! 14 inches!
Elijah: And he can use his tongue for getting leaves.
Dad: What do you like about the picture?
Elijah: He is white, brown, reddish brown, black, and red.
Dad: Lots of colors on an okapi! Thanks buddy! Time for "Life-Size Aquarium..." Lily?
Lily: Dolphins talk with their foreheads!
Isaac: Isn't it like sonar?
Dad: They send out sound waves, right?
Lily: Yeah. And they listen with their chin part. Under their mouth. Their jaw. Just the dolphin's head fits in the picture. It's supposed to be life-size.
Gracie: This is a japanese spider crab. His scientific name is macrocheira kaempferi.
Lily: I would be scared of him.
Gracie: He's the largest crab in the world. And he's got these little tentacles inside his mouth he uses to eat with, and they are always moving. His eyes can bend too.
Dad: I like all the textures and colors.
Gracie: All red and pink and yellow.
Elijah: He's really cool. I would want to be him. Only I wouldn't want to pinch anyone. Unless they were very evil guys who will never be good guys again.
Dad: Close us out, Isaac...
Isaac: This is a clione. Yes, I have never heard of them before. It is a little fishy thing. It's about an inch big. And it is white and orange, and really see-through. When it sees shellfishes, these six tentacles fly out of its mouth to catch them and eat them.
Dad: So do the books only have giant life-size animals?
Isaac: Nooo. This one is very very very very small. But if I open the pages up, there is a big walrus behind it. Putting them next to each other helps make the big animal seem bigger and the small one seem really teeny. There are five cliones in the picture. The book doesn't give them names.
Dad: Why don't you name them...
Isaac: This one is Augustas. This one is Buddy. These ones are Flippers, Mr. Giant, and W.
Dad: So, who would like these books?
Lily: Zoo lovers. People that like monkeys.
Isaac: Everyone would like them. Unless they are scared of the zoo.
Gracie: These books are good for people who heard their mothers say "We can go to the zoo tomorrow," and then the next day it rains. They can check these books out of the library and it's just as good.
Isaac: I guess if someone is scared of the zoo, they can get these books instead, and they will be completely safe. So they are for everyone.
By: Teruyuki Komiya
Published, 2009-10: Seven Footer Press
Like them? Here they are