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Great Big Guinea Pigs Hardcover – September 5, 2006
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–A mother guinea pig tells her child a goodnight story with a twist: their ancestors were giants. As she describes the details of their size (We were as big as buffalo!) and habits, he interjects with excited questions and comments. Though her offspring has some doubts about the story's truth, Mom confirms at the end that she read about it this morning in the Times (newspaper scraps line their cage). Roth's creative color collages shift back and forth between the modern animals in their cozy home and dramatic but lighthearted scenes of the giant beasts in prehistoric South America. The textured torn paper that makes the smaller rodents seem so cuddly looks appropriately odd on their much larger predecessors, whose sharp but goofy teeth and expressive eyes add to the sense of fun. The first full view of the great big guinea pigs, which requires a vertical turn of the book, is especially entertaining. With varied perspectives, expressive figures, and creative composition, the spreads bring both modern and prehistoric worlds to life. A white background clearly differentiates the mother-child scenes from the richly colored images from eight million years ago. While fun to read and visually engaging, the book also presents fascinating information based on recent scientific discoveries. The facts come through in the dialogue without detracting from the lively interplay. The idea of introducing prehistoric mammals within a bedtime tale is original and highly successful.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Who can resist a title like this? And it's equally hard not to love the mother-son guinea-pig duo. They're sort of like their human counterparts--the son wants a bedtime story, so Mom tells him one--but unlike humans, guinea pigs have 1,500-pound ancestors, who are at the center of Mother guinea pig's story. Mom explains that eight million years ago, "guinea pigs like us weren't sweet, cute, and little. . . . No one brought us to school for show and tell." She goes on to talk about the great big guinea pigs (a wonderful double-page spread that has to be turned vertically for full advantage) and relates how they lived, what they looked like, and how they spread to the Americas. Thanks to the snappy dialogue, this is catalogued as fiction, but it is full of factual information (which Mom says she read in the torn newspaper in their cage; in fact, the bibliography mentions an article in the New York Times). Roth produces her typically super collage art made of torn papers. She manages to make her guinea pigs look equally adorable (in the present) and ferocious (in the past.) Some of the questions raised about the facts are made clear in the bibliography, but a longer author's note would have better served the story.^B Still, this is great. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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