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Wild Babies    by Margriet Ruurs & Andrew Kiss order for
Wild Babies
by Margriet Ruurs
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Wild Babies brings the wilderness into our homes, via Margriet Ruurs' engagingly descriptive text and illustrations of beautifully detailed paintings by Andrew Kiss. Since loons have always been a family favorite, I adore the cover picture of a loon mother ... 'Safe on Mama's back, a loon chick sails among the reeds.' We often see loons on the lake through the summer, and treasure sightings of Mama loon followed by a V trail of little ones.

There are raccoon kits ('Little bandits'); a moose calf; an otter pup; 'Downy goslings'; a spotted fawn who 'takes a nap in sun-dappled shadows'; small skunks; goat kids; and bear, fox, cougar and wolf cubs. The paintings look real, dense in detail, in which a variety of critters go about their business. Just as when you're really in the wild, it takes a careful look to spot creatures who blend in with their environment (there's also an animal word to be located on each page.)

A legend at the back of the book tells us what to look for in each picture (I missed the otter's tail and the butterfly) and gives fascinating information about wild infants, including the names of male and female animals, groups and babies (I'd heard of a gaggle of geese, but how about a clutter of cougars?). I didn't know that skunks eat a huge number of insects, that loons 'are like little submarines' or that baby bear cubs are only as long as a pencil!

Read Wild Babies together, learn to see detail outdoors, and then take a camping trip and look out for wild animals with educated eyes.

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