Thursday, June 7, 2012

Children's Author Highlight: Steve Jenkins

For all those parents of children who have a million and one questions about animals, Steve Jenkins is the guy for you. He co-authors many of his books with his wife, Robin Page, and he does the illustrations.
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One of the questions children will always ask is, "What do animals eat?" 

Anytime a desperate parent is looking for something that will be both informative, and still be interesting to their 3-year-old son or daughter (who let's face it, might have an attention span the size of a Jack Russell), I refer them to a Steve Jenkins book. He writes interesting and colorful picture books, with just the right amount of words written in understandable language, and he satisfies both parents and children alike.  

The illustrations from the book are paper collages that he carefully arranges over his sketches. The paper is layered on top of each other. He does a marvelous job of choosing papers that compliment the textures of his subjects. Not only are they eye-popping, but they are so much fun to look at!  To see how he writes his books, check out the page on his website about how he makes books.

Many of his books stem from the questions his children ask. Children are the ultimate sponges of knowledge, and with their constant curiosities, you can only imagine that it was easy for their dad to turn each one into a perfectly lovely book. Now, when children ask me pretty much any question about animals, there is a Steve Jenkins book to answer their questions. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Actual Size and Prehistoric Actual Size are great big picture books that show (you'll never see this coming--) the ACTUAL SIZE of the animal pictured. But what about the big ones, you say? Well, some pages fold out, like the head of a saltwater crocodile, while others just get up close and personal with an animal, like a tiger's eye, but all of them, are actual size. 

Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember will introduce you to some surprisingly dangerous animals, and tells you what you should never do if you encounter these animals with interesting defense mechanisms. Did you know the platypus is poisonous? 
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"Dad, what's the fastest animal? The strongest?" Questions ones of his sons asked him led him to write Biggest, Fastest, Strongest, a book of animal superlatives.
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What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? explores different characteristics of animals that make them unique and interesting. It was also a Caldecott Honor book -- Go Steve!
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I get to recommend Time to Eat a lot, because I get a lot of curious little minds asking their parents what animals eat. And don't you know, Steve Jenkins has just the right answers for young sponges, who need compelling pictures and not an overwhelming amount of text.
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In How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?, Jenkins shows us how a variety of animals all catch this most annoying little bug. Birds that swoop, tongues that stick, and bugs that spear and poison all star in this beautiful book.
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And then of course, if you're a fly from the book above, you'd ask What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? In this book, Jenkins shows us the cool things animals can do to escape a predator's grasp.

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Read more about the author at his website: 

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