food pyramids

30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Twelve: Carnivores

by Aaron Reynolds, Illus by Dan Santat

Chronicle Books, 2013.

Natalya had gotten to my stack of picture books from the Library first. So I ask her every day after: which picture book should I read/review next? Carnivores. Her answer is always the same, sometimes adding: have you even read it yet?!  I did, finally…I was an idiot for waiting, I could have used a good laugh days ago! When I told her: I finally read Carnivore. She said: “I know, I heard you laughing hysterically every few minutes.” The moral of this story, in case it is unclear: delayed gratification is always the preferable.

carnivores cover

The lion is king of the jungle!
The great white shark is sovereign of the seas!
The timber wolf is emperor of the forests!

But…it’s lonely at the top of the food chain. It’s difficult to fit in when plant eaters can be so cruel–just because you ate a relative of theirs that one time! What’s a carnivore to do?  (jacket copy)

Carnivores_Int Spread_1

The lion, great white shark and timber wolf form a support group, “because even carnivores need to share their feelings.” Together, they try to find ways to appear and become friendlier and thus more, er, socially acceptable. “We’ll go vegetarian!” “New outfits! We’ll blend right in!” While you may guess that these plans fail, how they are carried out and the ways in which they fail are not something you should leave yourself wondering about. And I’m not going to say. So get your hands on a copy of this book!


From the label on the cover of the book, to the carnivore food pyramid on the end-pages to the witty delivery of text and image, and that punctuating double-page close, Carnivores is a delight through and through. Aaron Reynolds’ wit was amusing in Creepy Carrots!, but it is a riot here. Carnivores is like David Sedaris for kids…

the lion: “The wildebeests call him “bad kitty” just because he’s eaten half the neighborhood.”

the great white shark: Everyone talks about his “feeding frenzies.” But he’s simply a fast eater.

the timber wolf: He’s not sneaking. He’s merely a very quiet walker. with vicious fangs. and scary eyes.

Santat brings a lot of his own energy to the book with his bold colors and scale. He applies the right balance of real and cartoon, sacrificing nothing for the sake of those expressions on the animals’ faces. I like that even at their most vulnerable (at least according to the text), the carnivores are always dominant in composition; Santat makes it hard to pity them, even when their facial expressions would read pathetic.

carnivores shark

The story’s humor veers towards the dark side. Do judge your own child’s sensitivity, and remember my sweet socially conscious girl does love the macabre. Carnivores is certainly cathartic to the polite conduct books on picture book shelves, even as it creates a lovely tension with said polite works. Carnivores is fun on so many levels.  But I shan’t digress into any academic mode. Carnivores is a smart, funny book that should make you laugh, omnivore or no.

The book trailer:

{images belong to Dan Santat}


Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

5 thoughts on “food pyramids

  1. Since Natalya liked it so much, and you laughed a lot when you read it, I think I will need to read it also.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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