Childcraft: 1992 Pets and Other Animals Annual

I am so sorry to say that this 1992 Pets and Other Animals Annual is not a favorite of mine. In fact, I truly dislike it.

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Starting in the very late 1980s or early 1990s, the Childcraft editors began to convert the Childcraft brand into a more progressive resource. Moving from a holistic, family-focused child-loving encyclopedia series, the new Childcraft titles were branded with a classroom feel (and ultimately have been rolled into a Common Core Standards alignment). This book is one of the first of the new sort.

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Moving away from old fashioned storytelling and an almost “Mr. Rogers” approach to cultivating wonder and awe, the new books have a much more information approach. Instead of seeking to draw a child in, they spoon-feed the child pertinent data.

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Not all of the changes are bad. The newer books work harder to be more inclusive of non-Western ideas and stories.

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And, like the photo below, the new volumes do have some really neat photos that help the child see into the subject matter in a more technical way.

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However, with these broader inclusions also came more modern (and, in my opinion, ugly) art and storytelling.

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Sadly, also, these books just look and feel like textbooks with all kinds of infographics, vocab explanations, and important facts. The old books covered much of the same relevant ground, but did so in a way which was more elegant and memorable.

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Finally, my biggest disappointment, the new books miss opportunities to include delightful stories. While the Duck Walk is delightful, it is presented here in a way that reads dry and a bit condescending. (As an alternative, take a look at Patrica Polacco’s story John Philip Duck.)

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Sadly, there isn’t an older version of this book which you could use instead. If your family library needs a book on pets, this one might be a good option. If, however, you are expecting the same level of quality that the older Childcraft annuals offered, I regret to inform you that this one disappoints.

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