Talk, Talk, Squawk!: A Human’s Guide to Animal Communication, by Nicola Davies

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There is a really surprising amount of information in this book that looks like such a light read when you just grab it in passing off the nonfiction display. It would be great for kids who are interested in animals, and I found it pretty interesting as an adult, too.

You learn about all the different ways animals communicate—through coloring, like different kinds of butterfly fish and monkeys; through smells, like beavers and pandas (who will do handstands so they can get their bums higher up on the tree, letting other pandas know just how big and intimidating they are); through sound, like wolves and howler monkeys and birds; through dances, like seahorses and the superb lyrebird, who apparently does a dance so elaborate that he builds himself a stage first; through electric buzzes, like the elephant-nose fish that live in West African rivers so muddy that they can’t see each other; and so on.

I learned that African elephants make rumbling sounds that are so low humans can’t hear them, but elephants can feel the vibrations over several miles. So when one part of the herd is in trouble, the rest of them show up almost from nowhere, and I thought that was really cool.

And I learned that deer roar. This was such a curious fact that my husband had to go look it up, and we found a YouTube video to listen to.

You could do a lot with this book, if you have kids who are interested in animals and nature. Lots of things to learn, and illustrated in a fun way that will keep kids entertained.

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