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Culture Children's Books

Hooves, paws, and claws

Children’s Books

Hooves, paws, and claws

Four silly animal stories

Let Me Sleep, Sheep!

Meg McKinlay

As Amos counts sheep to fall asleep, he hears a loud thump. Two grumpy sheep have tumbled into his bedroom, beckoned by his nightly ritual. More arrive and want Amos to build a fence for them to leap over. Lots of humorous demands and attempts follow. Finally the sheep are satisfied, and they tell Amos to test out the fence. He jumps and jumps until he’s sound asleep. Readers will enjoy the zany illustrations and crazy requests: “I feel like having a shower right now,” one sheep says. “Do you happen to have a hot tub?” another asks. (Ages 3-7)

What Does an Anteater Eat?

Ross Collins

An anteater wakes up and realizes he’s hungry, so he asks a series of animals if they know what he should eat. The animals give him all kinds of advice, but none of it seems quite right. He asks a leopard, who responds, “I must say, you look very tasty.” Finally he spots an ant mound and discovers the joys of … bananas. The book’s square format, bold watercolor-and-charcoal illustrations, and large text make it appealing for pre-readers and early readers. Children will also enjoy finding the ants going about their business on each spread. (Ages 2-5)

The Pawed Piper

Michelle Robinson

“I want a cat to cuddle.” So begins this story of a little girl who really wants a cat. She hatches a plan that proves so successful it attracts 67 cats to her bedroom, including her Granny’s cat, Hector. The detailed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations show the little girl’s determination and the blessing of a bed teeming with cats, which she enjoys all the next day. But when she returns Granny’s cat, she discovers the others also belong to other people. She has to return them, too. The ending will delight cat lovers. (Ages 2-5)

The Little Green Hen

Alison Murray

The Little Green Hen lives in the hollow of an apple tree and tends the orchard. When she needs help, the dog, sparrow, and squirrel volunteer, but the peacock, fox, and ginger cat refuse. Through the seasons the friends enjoy the trees, and when the rain comes they find shelter in the hollow. But the lazy critters are almost swept away in the flood until they beg for shelter. Later, when it’s time to clean up, all the animals help. This version of an old story has a subtle environmental twist. Simple woodcut-style illustrations give the book a retro feel. (Ages 2-5)


Irene Latham (Handout)


Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham (Putnam, 2019) depicts a true episode in Birmingham, Ala., history, when an elephant came to live in Avondale Park. From those beginnings, Latham tells a story of an African American child who loves elephants and wants to get close enough to touch Miss Fancy, but a “No Colored Allowed” sign keeps him out. The rest of the story shows how Frank resolves his problem. Expressive illustrations complement this introduction to the ugliness of Jim Crow laws.

In The Cat Who Lived With Anne Frank by David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin (Philomel, 2019), the cat, Mouschi, narrates the story. Mouschi belongs to Peter, one of the Jews who lives in the same hiding place as Anne and six others. Illustrations let the reader see the cramped quarters, the bustling spice factory below, and the world beyond the window. The cat explains: “We see frightened Yellow Stars herded toward the train station.” An author’s note provides further biographical information about Anne Frank. —S.O.