Review of Butt or Face? by Kari Lavelle

Butt or Face?

Can you tell which end you’re looking at?

by Kari Lavelle

Sourcebooks Explore, 2023. 36 pages.
Review written July 27, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review

I’ve now been Youth Materials Selector for my library system of 22 branches for a full year — and have gotten more requests that we purchase this book than any other nonfiction book.

What is it? Extreme close-up pictures of fourteen unusual animals. And those close-ups are either taken from their front end or their rear end. Turning the page reveals which one.

Like I said, most of these animals are a little unusual. Several insects and arachnids, and more than a few animals from Australia. I definitely was fooled more than once when I read through it.

After you turn the page, you get a more about the animal and where it lives, including little boxes with fun facts headlined either “Face the Facts” or “Beyond the Backside.” A chart at the back tells “Where they rest their BUTTS” and “What goes in their FACES.”

It’s kind of a shame this book came out in the middle of the summer, because it’s tailor-made for booktalking in the schools. I’m sure many librarians will choose to booktalk it next year, but I’ll be surprised if a lot of kids won’t have already seen it. I ordered 22 copies, and they all went to fill holds, with 5 people still having to wait their turn. (This is unusual for a children’s nonfiction picture book.)

This is a funny and playful way to learn about some of the amazing variety in the animal kingdom. Can you tell which end you’re looking at?

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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