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Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds

Written By | Aug 23, 2013

SILVER  SPRING, Md, August 24, 2013 – The lion, the great white shark, and the timber wolf all have the same problem. The other animals do not like them, and it makes them feel lonely.

To help them deal with their problem, the lion, the shark and the wolf form a support group. They realize the root of the problem is that they eat all the other animals.

They decide that if they could change then they would not be lonely because surely the other animals would like them. First they decide to try going vegetarian, but that leaves them feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Then they decide to try disguises to blend in, and while it works at first, the other animals start to notice as their friends go missing.

Finally, the lion has an idea. He invites the great horned old, the wisest of the carnivores, to come to their meeting to help.

Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.

The owl reflects on his own struggles with being left out of groups and feeling lonely. However, the owl has learned to live with the fact that he is a carnivore,

“I’m not bad. I’m a carnivore. Eating meat is just what I do,” he tells the lion, shark and wolf.

The other meat-eaters decide that the owl is right and that they need to accept themselves for who they are. By the end, the three predators no longer are bothered when the other animals run away because they know that they are meant to be carnivores.

This is a witty and fun book for older children. It is a good way to explain the food chain to children, and it also tackles so self-esteem issues that children can encounter if they are having trouble fitting in. You can easily adapt the mantra of “I’m not bad. It’s just what I do,” to I’m not weird. It’s just who I am,” or fill in whatever taunt your child may be receiving.

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.

The artwork makes the story all the more entertaining. While some stories’ illustrations merely convey the words on the page in a graphic form, Santat’s illustrations fill in the deeper story behind the text.

The three carnivores that figure as the story’s main characters really feel like individuals because of the way Santat has depicted them. Each page’s illustrations serve to enhance the story in creative ways by adding detail to the scene that goes left unsaid in the narration.

Author Aaron Reynolds is the author of dozens of children’s books and graphic novels. He has won the 2013 Crystal Kite award and has been nominated for the 2010 Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Award and the Monarch’s Kid’s Choice Award.

Illustrator Dan Santat 15 children’s books, 7 chapter books and 1 graphic novel.  He has won the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for Oh No!

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat was published on August 20, 2013 by Chronicle Books. It is available as a hardcover or an ebook.

Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer, mother and reader. She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Find her on Twitter @BrighidMoret, or follow @BigReadsLittleH for the latest children's book reviews.