Why Don’t Fish Drown? 

Authored by Anna Claybourne
Illustrated by Claire Goble
Published by Thames and Hudson

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Why Don’t Fish Drown? stands out for me as each title page is a question. I do love a question, and particularly a question that can generate a lot of good discussions. The questions are creative, quirky, varied, and the kinds of questions you can imagine children asking about the animal kingdom. They are also the kinds of questions that you could try and answer first and have a bit of fun with before delving into the book and finding out the answer, such as:

Do animals need maps?

Can I make friends with a snake?

What does woof mean?

Who decided to milk cows?

The chapter doesn’t just answer the question of each chapter either. The other great thing about this book is that each question leads to other more questions. For example, the chapter entitled, ‘Why don’t animals brush their teeth?’ leads on to include lots of different facts linked to animal hygiene, such as explaining sweating and why monkeys and apes groom each other and help each other get rid of fleas. In case you didn’t know, it’s a way of bonding and showing they care. It’s a book that comes across as funny and light-hearted while at the same time sharing sophisticated facts and detail about the natural world.

Not only are the questions and facts inventive, but so too is the layout. One aspect that I liked is that on some pages at the end of each chapter there’s a further question that links you to another chapter. For example, the chapter, ‘Why do sharks have such sharp teeth?’ asks another question about teeth at the end: ‘Why don’t animals brush their teeth?’ with the page number to take you to the answers. I like that it entices you to skip ahead or flick back rather than turning page by page. Another creative layout is how photographs and illustrations sit alongside famous paintings and drawings of animals with the font used throughout is in a handwriting style to give sketchbook feel to the book, which will encourage teachers and children to create their own.

Why Don’t Fish Drown?  is one to revisit many times because there is just so much fascinating and ‘ooh, I never knew that’ information with 22 question titled chapters and over 90 pages long. So it’s one to dip into and read over and over again.

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