Archive for January 16th, 2012

January 16, 2012

predictably, the zebra doesn’t make it in “After the Kill”

I’m too much of a wuss to give this one to my son quite yet. I’m not necessarily proud to be part of the modern tradition of shielding children from basically all reality, but here we are. When my son asks about what animals eat, I tell him. But he usually doesn’t believe me. When he asks if the fish we eat are the same kind that swim in the sea, I tell him. But again, he doesn’t believe me. When he asked recently what bird eat, I told him that smaller birds eat seeds and worms and bugs and larger birds ate smaller birds and mammals. This time, not only did he not believe me, he wanted to challenge me. So he asked his dad to get out his iPhone and test his “hypothesis” (yes, he loves that word) that big birds ate worms and small birds ate bird seed. Now, since the best way to prove something to be true is to google it, his search basically answered the question in the way he had hoped.

Which is all to say that I don’t think he’s quite ready for this book. But I will certainly show it to him someday, although if the past is any indication, he simply won’t believe me.

Title: After the Kill
Author: Darrin Lunde
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
 Picture Book, Nonfiction, Science
Ages: I would say 4 or 5 and up, but maybe 3 if you are less of a wimp than I am (and have raised someone less in denial)

Summary and Stuff to do with the kids:

This is a great story about the food chain out in the wilds of Africa. It starts, rather graphically, with a zebra getting killed by a lioness. Vultures, hyenas and jackals also come along for a bite until the male lions scare them away. When the lions are done, more vultures come and then the beetles “swarm inside the skull, squeeze between the teeth, and wiggle inside the ears.” We are not treading lightly here.

The words make no apology for what is going on, which I appreciate. It is life as life is, and as kids do need to understand at some time. And it is animals acting as animals–they are not anthropomorphized or having conversations, which I also appreciate. The illustrations are gorgeously done, which given the subject matter, could be considered a plus or a minus. 🙂

This would be a great book to talk to your kids about where food comes from. Or, if the kids are older, it could easily be used in an elementary science class to talk about the food chain. It’s also a great conversation starter about waste: how much food does the average American family throw away after they make dinner? Well, what about these animals? They killed one zebra and lots of animals got their full of it, eating absolutely everything until the bare bones lay scorching in the sun.

Now tell me: when did your kids figure out what their food really was? Were they in denial for awhile? Was it a one-time revelation, or did it just slowly sink in over time? And would you like a book like this to talk with them?