Acting Wild

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Member Reviews

Like the library reviewer who commented that the book "has too much information," I was expecting less content from this book. Unlike that reviewer, I don't think a lot of information is a bad thing, though! I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of content and just revised the way I'd use the books with my kids.

This short book features sections of ways that animals are like humans, in sometimes quite surprising ways. I expected a few short sentences and generalities, like ants work together and humans work together, and we all like to play. Instead, it gives one in-depth paragraph or two for each of several types of animals who do the sorts of things we humans do (and tend to think we're alone in doing them), in a range of categories.

Categories included are:

Let it grow (featuring profiles of animals that raise livestock, garden, etc.)
That will teach you (profiles of ways animals teach their young)
Laugh it up (profiles of animals that giggle and laugh)
Dealing with death (animals that mourn, have funerals, etc.)
Creature construction (how animals build)
Tools of the trade (ways that animals make and use tools)
Join the conversation (ways they communicate)
Clean as a whistle (hygiene and such)
It's all fun and games (playing)
This calls for teamwork (working together)
Time for a trip (ways they can move long distances)

The book goes past the usual cliches of ways animals are like us and I learned a few things that were new to me, like the fact that some monkeys floss their teeth and that some birds teach their young a special chirp to identify them starting when they're in their eggs, which the babies must chirp to the mama before she'll feed them so she knows they've learned it. I knew that they had their own chirps to identify each other, but didn't know about the lessons at feeding time to teach it.

I found this book very interesting and entertaining, and plan to read it with my 7 y/o and 12 y/o this week. It was actually a little better than I expected from the cover. Colorful illustrations accompany the text. Younger kids will probably enjoy this as a read-aloud, while older kids can just read it for interesting trivia. Kids who like animals will probably find it especially fun.

My rating system:
1 = hated it
2 = it was okay
3 = liked it
4 = really liked it
5 = love it, plan to purchase, and/or would buy it again if it was lost

I read a temporary digital ARC of the book for the purpose of review.
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I was not expecting a book filled with information. There is too much information on the pages for the type of book that it is trying to be. I would have liked contrast between some things we do and some things animals do. That's what I really expected from this book.
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This educational, non-fiction and fun book is narrated by a friendly ant.  Now that aspect alone will get a kid's attention.  Mr. Ant does a stellar job of pointing out similar behaviours between humans and those belonging to the animal kingdom.  

He compares their behaviours in:  farming, teaching, laughing, building, mourning, communicating, grooming, playing, traveling, using tools, and working together.  You will be pleasantly surprised to find out so many ways that we act the same.  

Kids will love the playful and humorous illustrations that are detailed and expressive.  The table of content at the beginning easily divides the book into mini chapters and a glossary and further reading suggestions section is included at the end for those who want to dig deeper.  

These fascinating facts will educate not only kids but adults too.  It would be a wonderful addition to a classroom, elementary school library or for a reluctant reader.  I highly recommend this book.
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Acting Wild, narrated by an enthusiastically chatty ant, displays ways in which humans are just as wild as the other members of the animal kingdom. 

Maria Birmingham effectively references a wide sampling of creatures and their behaviors to compare with humans.  From apes to ants, small and large creatures share with humans the ability to use tools, farm, and build. From shrimp to kangaroos, teamwork and fun are also present in the wild. Staying clean and educating one another cross the species boundary as well,  lemurs and birds being examples. 

Humorous, colorful, and very anthropomorphic illustrations by Dave Whamond with animals acting more like humans than the other way around: a groundhog on a mobile phone; a chimpanzee operating a street food vendor cart; a ring tailed lemur using a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush; elephants dressed in black while mourning; beavers in construction hats and heavy machinery. 

Are we acting like animals? Or are animals acting like us? At the core, we’re all animals behaving like animals, and that message is delivered in this book, both through Birmingham’s words and Whamond’s images. While only a standard thirty-two pages, this book is notably longer than your average bedtime story picture book. The table of contents helpfully separates each spread into its own little “chapter,” making it easy to call lights out and resume the next night, if desired. The end matter contains a glossary and further reading suggestions for those who enjoyed the book and want to learn more. (I did, and I do!) 


Thanks to Owlkids Books, Maria Birmingham and Dave Whamond, and to NetGalley for the provided e-ARC and the opportunity to read this book. My review is honest, unbiased, and voluntary. #NetGalley #ActingWild

(The “American Gothic” ants on page eight were an amusing detail.)
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Have you ever wondered how closely we are related to various animals and insects?  Most of us know humans are closely related to apes but how are other animals like us?  Are there animals that mourn loved ones, are there animals that laugh and play like we do?  Thankfully Maria Birmingham has all the answers in the new non-fiction book Acting Wild: How We Behave Like Birds, Bugs and Beasts.

Author Maria Birmingham brings us all kinds of facinating facts about how humans are similar to animals and insects all divided into twelve headings or chapters with three facts under each heading and a wonderful little ant, a sort of Jiminy Cricket if you will, as your guide throughout the pages.  The ant guide starts off each chapter/heading with a little banter, adding colour and giving a distinctive voice and flow to the book.  There are times when non-fiction can be a bit dry but Maria Birmingham knows exactly how to grab and keep a reader’s attention with her humourous asides.  Not only does the author give the reader information in each chapter about three specific animals, she also adds the names of other animals who fall into each category for those who are so inclined to conduct further research and learn even more about different animals.  

Dave Whammond adds the cartoon flair to the book, creating really fun and engaging pictures throughout to further up the interest level and keep readers around for the long haul.  Since the book is fairly lengthy at 34 jam packed pages, the illustrations keep the reading fresh and motivating.  Designer Alisa Baldwin was brilliant in bringing all of these elements together to create a wonderful non-fiction book about animal behaviour to all the non-fiction loving readers out there.  It’s so important for children to have access to information about real topics in an age appropriate way.  It was not that long ago when I set a project for the grade two students I was teaching at the time about animals and struggled to find non-fiction books to bring in for them to conduct their research.  This year The Bear, in grade two, was given a similar project and had a wealth of non-fiction texts, appropriate for his level of understanding to use to create his project about dolphins.  It is so important for children to have a whole host of books available at their fingertips because you just never know what type of book will turn a reluctant reader into a lifelong reader.
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3.5 stars

I'm always looking for fun non-fiction books for my son to read.  At his school they have to log down 25 non-fiction books each quarter so I'm constantly on a search for books that have cool illustrations, humor and of course, information.  We read this one last night and we learned a lot of things about how animals are like humans.  The illustrations were funny and the way it was written made learning fun.  I did not know rats make a high pitched sound that resembled laughter.  😮 I'd recommend it for age 6 and up.
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ARC provided by NetGalley and Owlkids. 

Neat factoids incoming! Did you know that Meerkats teach their children how to catch and kill poisonous scorpions over time by giving them live ones without stingers to test their skills? Did you know that many animals have similarities to humans? This book breaks down these similarities in key elements, like teaching, farming and construction Each segment has several examples of how these behaviors express in nature, alongside funny, clean imagery of animals doing human-like things. The artwork is reminiscent of newspaper cartoons in a stylish and entertaining way, breaking up the sometimes dense blocks of information about animals. All of this is organized on the page in an aesthetically pleasing and balanced way that makes the reading experience fluid and easy, something I find very important for the success of getting information across to young readers. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to bolster their animal non-fic collection.
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Honestly, despite getting more or less what I expected from Acting Wild by Maria Birmingham and illustrated by Dave Whamond, I have to admit that I didn't really like it. To a certain extent, I think that I thought there would be more scientific-related commentaries regarding how we are similar to other animals and ultimately it was more of a list of qualities that animals an humans share. And the whole book was basically narrated by an ant, which while interesting and probably something that children would enjoy, it didn't really attract my interest.

I'm not sure I really found much wrong with the book as a whole. It was well illustrated, informative, and had a genuinely good purpose. I do feel as though the way the information was presented might be difficult for younger children to understand and older children may not be as interested. But that's about it, really. Overall, I just had a rough time getting into it and I don't feel like the book matched a specific audience, instead trying to appeal to younger children with a vocabulary that's probably higher than what they'd understand.

Acting Wild wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't exactly what I would call bad, either. It was just okay.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I love books like these, it educates not only children, but their parents and caregivers, too. Humans aren't as superior as they think they are when compared to other earthly creatures. Ants can farm, just like us, and rats and dog can laugh (I haven't heard my cats laugh, BUT I know when they are having a good quite laugh by the look on their faces!), they mourn loved ones, they use tools, etc... I think it's time we reevaluate where we fit in the scheme of things! We really aren't that different after all!  This book was wonderful in that it drew all the sameness into one volume that kids can easily access. great book for budding animal behaviorists!
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A friendly narrator, who happens to be an ant, explains the many ways that we humans are like other animals. We farm, teach our young, laugh, mourn, build, use tools, and so on. Several examples are given to show each shared trait. Clearly organized, well- illustrated, and informative, this book will enable young readers to see our human place within the animal world.
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Another book that seems unable to choose what is its targeted audience! Mixed of long informative text with childish illustrations. Not so sure what it wants to achieve but for me it was a miss. Too bad...
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