Not A Monster

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Pub Date 09 May 2023 | Archive Date 09 May 2023

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With Spanish vocabulary and a clever color concept, this poetic picture book shares the life cycle of beloved amphibian—the axolotl—in its natural habitat.

An axolotl may look like one, but it is certainly Not a Monster. This curious creature, made popular by Minecraft, is actually a salamander that will never lose its gills or fins. Not a Monster explores the traits of the axolotl, the Aztec origin myth about the species, and the way pollution is affecting its natural habitat: the canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City. 

Fun and engaging, this playful and informative read-aloud introduces curious readers on one cool character who is NOT a monster!
With Spanish vocabulary and a clever color concept, this poetic picture book shares the life cycle of beloved amphibian—the axolotl—in its natural habitat.

An axolotl may look like one, but it is...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781623543037
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 25 members

Featured Reviews

This nonfiction book is a great addition to elementary science curriculum, for a class read aloud or independent student reading. The book teaches readers about the scientific development of the axolotl, and how it grows into an adult form. Showing each stage with descriptive, clear language and pictures to match, it is easily understandable. The latter half of the book covers conservation of axolotl habitats, and the need to preserve them. The author then weaves in traditions from Latinx culture, and how this is reflected in the axolotl's life and home itself. Woven throughout the English writing are Spanish words. Readers can often figure out the meaning of the words from the context clues and pictures included. Additionally, there is a glossary at the end of the book to aid readers. The author also includes information about the tradition and folklore of the axolotl itself. This darling and important book is not to be missed, especially by animal lovers.

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A gorgeous book combining active, beautiful art, lyrical writing, cultural connections, and heart. The story follows the life-cycle of an axolotl while including facts about axolotl conservation status, cultural legends, and more. I highly recommend this book.

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I still can't pronounce axolotl, which is fine. No one is surprised. Shoutout to Xochimilco, where I got shitfaced on pulque, which I thought was a smoothie. That was unrelated to everything. I mean, they mention Xochimilco in the book. You should go. Super close to CDMX. Amazing city. But also, this book is so so cute and has beautiful illustrations.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.

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This book follow the life of an axolotl, including information on where they live and how they grow and their connection to an Aztec god. It's a fun and cute read that teaches facts about axolotls while also using some basic Spanish vocabulary.

Thank you to NetGalley and Charlesbridge for making this available in exchange for an honest review!

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We just finished up a unit on the sea and my students are obsessed with all things axolotl! The story describes the life cycle of an axolotl, with an added message about caring for our planet. I love that the text is infused with Spanish words (and the Spanish/English dictionary at the end!). The illustrations in this book are beautiful. I'm very much looking forward to sharing this book with my 3rd graders!

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This super cute bilingual read is alllll about axolotls. Included in the back is a glossary for the Spanish words used. Perfect for those kiddos who love to learn about new animals or for homes who love to be culturally inclusive.

Thank you NetGalley and Charlesbridge for allowing me the chance to read and review this title.

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The color palate in this picture book is amazing along with the watercolor style. I learned a lot about the axolotl and some new words in Spanish too! The back of the book has a glossary for the Spanish words and more information about axolotls.

The only reason why I didn’t give it five stars was I think the part about the kids coming and clean the water was disjointed from the first part of the book.

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I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review. This is a kid's nonfiction book about axolotls and has some great Spanish vocabulary words throughout.

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I really enjoyed this book. The illustrations were spectacular. I wish it didn’t include the information on pages 24-29 though. It takes away from the life cycle aspect and doesn’t seem to fit. The life cycle is nonfiction and then you randomly bring in a folktale to end with the nonfiction again. I could definitely use this when the science teachers are teaching the life cycle.

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Loved this one.

You learn as the story goes along and get to learn some Spanish vocabulary too.

I think this book would be great for elementary aged children maybe 2nd to 5th grade would be best. Although it’s appropriate for your listeners too but isn’t something I think they could read on their own at the younger ages. However a teacher could totally read this to younger children and keep them engaged.

The illustrations were really nice in this one too.

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My kids have really been into learning about Axolotls, but there really aren’t very many books about them. This is such a great book about them. It is told in a lyrical story format, but includes so much information about their life cycle, where they live, and their diet. The illustrations are gorgeous. Along the way you learn some words in Spanish, including colors. I loved that the color names were in that particular colored font. The author’s axolotls are included in the back with more information about them. I loved that they were named after characters from Harry Potter. My kids enjoyed the book so much they immediately asked me to read it again.

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This book was really soothing for me to read. The colors are beautiful and muted but still help tell the story and give clues to the Spanish words peppered throughout the story. I loved how it shows the lifecycle of the axolotl and the folklore as well. Overall it’s a beautiful read that’s educational.

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you NetGalley!

My children and I ADORE axolotls. So we were pretty excited to read another book featuring them!

The illustrations are cute. The story and facts were great.
I'd definitely buy us a physical copy of this book, AND I'd love to give it out as gifts to others!

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It's a book about the Axolotl!!! This is one of my favorite animals, they have the cutest little faces with their frilly gills. I love that the amigos in this book were trying to keep the lake clean so that the Axolotl's would continue to reproduce and live. The folklore surrounding the Axolotl in this book was cool and I had never heard that before.

I love that the author included Spanish words in this book with a translated vocabulary at the back of the book. It is a great way to introduce a new language to young readers.

Overall, a fantastic picture book and I highly recommend.

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Thank you netgalley for letting me read and review this children's book. There's stunning art for one! The story is cute and has a good message. I'm glad there was a glossary in the back for the Spanish words throughout the book. A great read for children, or anyone. Axolotls are so cute.

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You can't go wrong with a book about unique animals. Axolotl seem to be the trendy new pet these days but there aren't enough elementary level books about them to satisfy kids. This is a great little bilingual (Español) story about the life cycle and unique attributes of the Axolotl. If reading this out loud be sure to brush up on your pronunciations if, like me, you haven't studied Spanish in a while. This also includes discussion about the habitat and conservation problems facing them in the wild. My only caveat is be prepared for the questions when you get to the page on the mating dance and egg fertilization. I would recommend this for a small group or home read rather than a group read at the library.

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I think axolotls are adorable and I'm so glad there's finally a kids book that I can read in story times now!

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Not A Monster by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez is a juvenile nonfiction gem! The illustrations were very vivid and colorful and went along wonderfully with the story. You begin by learning what an axolotl is and the facts associated with this mystical-looking creature. As you read readers are also exposed to various Spanish words woven seamlessly with the story. Great read and I highly recommend this title for libraries, this would be a wonderful way of introducing animals from different countries.

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This might just be my daughters favorite book of the year so far!
We loved learning about the life of the Axolotl and the aztec myth behind the creature. Along with learning the words that were written in Spanish throughout the story. It was so well done, mixing languages and still making it accessible to kids/parents who's primary language is English. It even provides the vocabulary in the back of the book.

I want to add how beautiful the color pallet and illustrations in this book are. Each page flowed beautifully onto the next. I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what she had drawn next.

I can not wait to donate this book to my daughters class! Thank you NetGalley and Charlesbridge publishing for an early copy of this book.

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This book was a very easy read and I would recommend it to someone teaching their child Spanish. It phrases things in a way that is easy to associate the words to the English one. I particularly love that the color words in Spanish were the color they were describing. The art is stunning in this book and I loved learning more about Axolotl’s in this. I wasn’t familiar with some of the lore surrounding the creatures, but it was overall a great read!

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This picture book is full of gills, amigos, and little axolotls-faces! a perfect non-fiction gem for kiddos curious about the mysterious life of axolotls, with a few Spanish words seamlessly tied in alongside specular illustrations and lore!

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The axolotl, an unusual amphibian, is the focus of this informational picture book that includes some Spanish words. This species of salamander’s natural habitat is in the Mexico City area, and pollution threatens its environment. Known to children due to its use as a Minecraft character, the text uses Spanish words for various colors to describe the life cycle of the axolotl, which never loses its gills or fins. This makes a great read-aloud, with only one sentence per page, and the listeners can call out the main color described on each spread. The full color watercolor illustrations show the creature at various stages of its development, usually under water. An author’s note and glossary are found at the end.

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If it’s not a monster, then what is it?

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez seeks to answer that question for all curious readers who glimpse the cover of her new children’s book, Not a Monster, published in late 2023 by Charlesbridge. Martinez is the award-winning author of The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, Pig Park, and Not a Bean. Not a Monster is lovingly illustrated by Laura Gonzalez.

The axolotl is a strange little animal. Although sometimes called the “water dog” or “Mexican walking fish” the name axolotl originates from an old Aztec god, Xolotl, who ruled all the monstrous things. Axolotl, then, is most commonly translated as “water monster.” Martinez highlights its history within Not a Monster, along with the life cycle of the salamander within its wild habitat.

The book is told in a mixture of English and Spanish. While it is easy to pick up the meaning of the Spanish words through context, there is still a glossary at the back of the book that can be referenced. It is easy to read, and easy to imagine the book sparking greater curiosity about the natural world, through its depiction of the salamanders and their life. The folk tale of their origins is bookended by the story of their enigmatic smile, and a hope for the future through education.

Laura Gonzalez’s art is beautiful. There are traditional designs melded into the background of the beautiful nature scenes. The colors are vibrant, while still being true to the natural shades of the animals. Traditional designs fill the empty spaces alongside the text, and the world both above and below and lake are gorgeous. Gonzalez highlights the emotional life of the animal without anthropomorphizing.

Not a Monster is a beautiful way to expose a child to both Mexican culture and the importance of biodiversity within the world. The book rewards curiosity, and offers ways for children to get involved with conservation. The folklore mixes with the natural history to highlight how the preservation of animals is important not just for ecology, but also for cultural heritage.

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The lurking face of this gentle axolotl was what attracted me to the book as well as the fact that someone would suggest calling this charming salamander a monster.

The book starts off by exploring a small axolotl as he hatches (guessing a gender from the model in the back of the book but I could be wrong) then follows him as he develops into what can only be described as a adult formed juvenile. The reader follows his adventures as he zips around the other watery denizens while the text weaves around the reader with some inclusion of Spanish words and colors to possibly encourage readers to step outside their comfort zones just a bit.

<i>Not A Monster</i> then provides a brief summary on how the Aztecs considered this unique salamander to have originated before exploring some friends as they along with their community work on rehabilitating the axolotl's home. And then the heartwarming message that wraps all of this together.

The illustrations were quite gorgeous, full page and full of wonderful details including the inclusion of native elements to showcase the changing of the story's plot. Furthermore there is included in the back of the book more information about the animals, their usage in the human world and the rehabilitation of their environment alongside the actual models of the axolotl characters in this book. At the same time there are two glossaries providing translations for the Spanish words and a separate glossary that translates the Spanish colors.

It was cute, informative and a sweet story of hope that I would most definitely recommend to axolotl fans no matter their age. Even with the inclusion of Spanish words, it is still an easy enough read that one shouldn't be discouraged at this mix of storytelling.

**I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

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