Show Your Pearly Whites

by Catherine Ham
Charlesbridge, $14.95, 32 pages

Why does an animal open its mouth? Author Catherine Ham takes kids on a tour of mouths in Open Wide. Ham invites her readers to explore the open mouths of over 24 animals and to brainstorm reasons why they might have their jaws extended so wide. Is it to breathe, eat or talk? Readers are introduced to crocodiles, penguins, hippos and seagulls. There are representatives from the mammalian, avian, amphibious, reptilian and aquatic communities. Ham’s writing rolls off the tongue and each page brings a new rhyming verse. She talks about specific attributes of each animal and tells readers why that animal’s mouth is open so wide. The lion cub isn’t giving a ferocious roar. He is yawning and ready for a nap. Prairie dogs sit on guard duty with mouths open so they can bark loudly when danger is near. If you see a zebra with its mouth open, he is getting ready to charge… so move out of the way! The photos are great close-ups of the open mouths. Readers can see every detail. Who knew that elephants have such small mouths and komodo dragons have filthy, poisonous and slobbery teeth? This book makes science fun. Parents and teachers can use it to encourage kids to brainstorm the many reasons why humans open their mouths.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin