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They Just Know: Animal Instincts

Written by Robin Yardi
Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein
(Arbordale Publishing; $17.95 hardcover, $9.95 paperback, Ages 4-8)


They Just Know: Animal Instincts book cover


Kids are curious. They wonder about everything they see in nature, especially about living creatures. So if your child has ever asked you how animals know what to do in any given situation, it’s the perfect time to introduce the concepts of instinct and learned behaviors with They Just Know: Animal Instincts, a terrific nonfiction picture book. When those questions start you’ll definitely want to have a copy of this helpful resource on hand not just for your kids but as a refresher for you parents and caregivers


They Just Know: Animal Instincts Interior spread of horn shark
Interior artwork from They Just Know: Animal Instincts by Robin Yardi with illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein, Arbordale Publishing ©2015.


While gently teaching about instinct versus learned behaviors, life cycles and metamorphosis, the young and their parents, They Just Know shows children that throughout the animal kingdom, all kinds of creatures are growing and changing, learning and succeeding and ultimately making it on their own.


They Just Know: Animal Instincts interior spread of ladybugs
Interior artwork from They Just Know: Animal Instincts by Robin Yardi with illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein, Arbordale Publishing ©2015.


Just like no one tells a baby when to cry, “no one reminds a caterpillar to eat her leaves, or to make a chrysalis when she’s old enough. Caterpillars just know.” Using this and other excellent animal examples, author Robin Yardi, and illustrator Laurie Allen Klein, introduce us to black swallowtails, horn sharks, king snakes, ladybugs, loggerhead sea turtles and spring peepers. The light-hearted artwork that anthropomorphizes the animals, imagines them in humorous situations preparing and studying for what actually comes naturally. Kids will find these depictions so funny. My favorite is the illustration of the horn shark sitting in his inflatable wading pool, wearing a float which, in all its contrariness, captures the text, “Nobody tells a horn shark to stay in the shallow end until he can swim.”


They Just Know: Animal Instincts interior spread of sea turtles
Interior artwork from They Just Know: Animal Instincts by Robin Yardi with illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein, Arbordale Publishing ©2015.


The book’s back matter includes four pages of learning activities in a section entitled For Creative Minds and it’s also a great conversation starter for the youngest of readers. Make sure to spend some time reading They Just Know: Animal Instincts before your next visit to the aquarium or zoo and I’m sure some enjoyable and entertaining discussions are bound to happen.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Find author Robin Yardi here.
Find illustrator Laurie Allen Klein here.
Click here for They Just Know teaching activities.
They Just Know is also available in Spanish Paperback, Ebook, and Spanish EBook



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Welcome to Ladybug Lane

Krista Jefferies reviews The House at the End of Ladybug Lane 

I don’t know a child who has not asked, if not begged, his or her parents for a pet.  Some parents would be fine with having a pet in the house, but not the obsessively neat parents of Angelina Neatolini in Elise Primavera’s The House at the End of Ladybug Lane ($16.99, Robin Corey Books, ages 4 and up).  While Angelina’s parents are known for “vacuuming the grass” and “polishing the flowers,” Angelina is quite the opposite with her naturally untidy ways. Although her parents refuse to give her a pet, Angelina still begs for one and even wishes for one as she gazes at the stars that, to her, look like animal constellations.  Her plea is answered as a magical ladybug appears on Angelina’s windowsill to grant the little girl her wish. However, the ladybug mishears Angelina and instead of giving her a pet, she conjures up a pest, who makes a mess of the house while creating delicious culinary treats. Every request Angelina makes is misinterpreted as something else. Illustrations by Valeria Docampo help tell the tale with large, detailed images that pull readers into the story as every creature that enters the house turns it upside. This quirky, hard-of-hearing ladybug is a mix of Cinderella’s fairy godmother and the Cat in the Hat, and the mishaps that result are troublesome but tickling. The story does culminate in a happy ending for Angelina, in which her parents accept her for who she is—a good lesson for parents as well as kids.  This is a fun read for any child, just be ready for them to ask for a pet afterward!

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