Hedgehogs: Nocturnal Foragers (Read And Learn), by Rebecca Rissman
It is always interesting to read a book like this one where you come to the book with outside knowledge and have some sort of context to knowing what the book does not discuss. Admittedly, like many books about animals this one is directed at children and the author of the book evidently decided that it was not appropriate to discuss the less than pleasant aspects of the existence of the hedgehog. This was really a missed opportunity, because children can learn a great deal about the reality of the world when adults are willing and able to discuss some of the gross or unpleasant aspects of reality, so that children are at least a little better able to handle those times when the unpleasant aspects of reality intrude themselves on their notice in their own lives. Hedgehogs are undoubtedly cute animals, but it is not as if their cuteness is the only aspect of their existence that is worth commenting on. There are at least three things this book does not say that are important, namely the opportunistic way that hedgehogs eat other animals as well as eggs, the way that the defenses of hedgehogs are unable to fully stop larger animals like eagles and badgers, and the way that hedgehog mothers sometimes eat their own children and thus aren’t the best of parents.
In terms of what this book does say, though, it is not without value and can in fact be very enjoyable if one wants to impress upon a young reader the general cuteness of hedgehogs, which is an important thing to consider when thinking about animals that one appreciates. The twenty-four pages of this book are filed with photos of adorable hedgehogs and unnumbered chapters that seek to answer questions about the animal that the reader might have if the reader is moderately curious but not particularly insightful in what to ask. First comes the question “what is a hedgehog?,” an obvious place to begin. After that the author explains what it means that hedgehogs are nocturnal, where hedgehogs live, what they eat, whether they have predators, and what hedgehog babies are like. After that comes a discussion of where hedgehogs go in winter, how one can spot hedgehogs, and how one can help them (not by adopting wild ones, sadly). Unfortunately the author does not talk about how it is that hedgehogs sometimes rest in the summer as well as the winter if they are in hot and dry climates, making hedgehogs a rare case of an animal lazy enough to hibernate twice in a year if circumstances are right. After the previous information comes a hedgehog bodymap, a picture glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an index.