This Is Not a Normal Animal Book

illus. by Brian Briggs. 48p. S. & S. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481439220.
K-Gr 2—This book purports to showcase a series of animals linked in a silly but predictable pattern by depicting something the first animal would not do, but the following animal would, e.g., "This is a cat. If the cat laid an egg…it would be a hen." The attempted pattern is quickly disrupted, however, by an apparent disagreement between the author and illustrator. The illustrator's commentary is identifiable by the hand-scrawled font, juxtaposed with the author's typewritten font. The artist initially expresses mere snarky incredulity at the absurd text. The conflict escalates into a full revolt when the illustrator flatly refuses to draw a blobfish. Images are a fresh, eclectic mix of doodles, bright and bold ink silhouettes, a memorable blobfish photograph, and an assortment of "real" objects seen to be resting on the page. The true focus of this book is the arguing between author and illustrator—not animals. Reading it aloud in two distinct, argumentative voices (with a little storyteller-guidance) could really get kids giggling. On the other hand, the text is "readable" to many children not yet able to conceptualize the rhythm of the author/illustrator spat, leading to confusion. Anyone, however, can grasp that a blobfish is gross and hilarious.
VERDICT Not a must-buy, but purchase where meta—picture book humor is a big hit.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing