The Animal Toolkit
Clarion Books, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99
Until 1960, when Jane Goodall observed a chimpanzee using a blade of grass to “fish” for termites, it was believed that humans were the only animal to use tools and that the use of these because we have opposable thumbs were what separated us from animals in general. However, since her discovery, we’ve learned that many creatures use sticks, leaves, rocks, and other natural items as tools to perform all kinds of tasks.
In this fascinating picture book from Caldecott Honor–winning team Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, readers learn all about what makes a tool a tool— “an object than an animal manipulates and uses to affect its environment, another animal or itself – and the remarkable ways animals that use them to interact with the world. From the tailorbird, which repurposes spider silk to stitch a leaf into its nest, to the gorilla, which uses sticks to test water depth and build bridges, these animals are intelligent, innovative, and creative.
Written in a narrative style that is easily accessible to the young independent reader, and using his signature cut paper illustrations, Steve Jenkins offers readers a closer look at these animals, their habitats, and their behaviours, making it a “poster-child” for why we must continue to offer our students a robust non fiction print collection. How else will they discover that apes and monkeys regularly clean their teeth, that crows indulge in sword-fighting just for fun and the bottlenose dolphins of Shark Bay, WA have learned to use seashells to catch food?
This is one that will fascinate animal enthusiasts and aspiring inventors everywhere, and perhaps inspire them to look more closely and investigate further.