Here are three excellent new children’s books having to do with animals and nature.

Alphabet book

Texas children’s author Glenna Beach Decker and illustrator Jessica Dupree have produced West Texas A to Z, a delightful alphabet book that focuses on critters you might see in the wild (Clear Fork Publishing, $16.99 hardcover).

Well, you might have to look some to find a zebra, but there probably are some running wild on a preserve somewhere.

Decker writes in easy-to-read verse as she tells about armadillos, beavers, coyotes, deer, eagles, foxes, goats, horses, iguanas, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, horny toad lizards, mules, nighthawks, opossums, porcupines, quail, roadrunners, skunks, tadpoles, odd-toed ungulates, vultures, wolves, xue bao (snow leopard), yellow-bellied sap suckers and, yes, zebras.

Dupree’s soft, engaging paintings make West Texas A to Z a picture book the whole family can appreciate.

Alphabet birds

Jessalyn Claire Beasley, who grew up in Texas and now lives in Tennessee, has written, illustrated and published a gorgeous alphabet book about birds, Little Birder: A Field Guide to Birds of the Alphabet ($24.95 hardcover).

Each bird gets two pages — a full-page color painting and a page of text that includes a summary of the bird’s principal characteristics and a poem. At the back, she includes information on how to draw birds and a Little Birder Birdwatcher’s Journal.

A few of the birds in her book: barn owl, chickadee, dove, blue jay, mockingbird (of course), purple martin, quail, woodpecker and waxwing.

I had the pleasure of hosting Jessalyn for a book signing recently and was impressed with her artistic talent and her professionalism.

In the book’s introduction, she encourages children to take time to notice birds and also help their parents slow down and appreciate nature around them. Little Birder is a good book for parents and children to read and savor together.


At age 8, Kate Gilman Williams of Austin went on safari in South Africa, where she met Michelle Campbell, a professional wildlife guide. Now they have teamed up to write Let’s Go on Safari, a provocative and informative children’s book about going on safari and about protecting African wildlife from poachers (Crickhollow Books, $12.95 paperback).

“Michelle explained to me that there are many threats to animals,” Kate writes, “including poaching and human-wildlife contact. I didn’t know that animals were in danger because of humans.”

After she got home, Kate woke up one morning and told her mom, “I want to stay home from school today. I think I can write a book to help save the animals.”

And she did. Kate is now 9 and just finished third grade.

“I came home determined to do something to help the animals of Africa — and guess what — you can help too!” she writes. “If we all become animal advocates, we can change the future of these endangered species.”

Kate and Michelle are donating the royalties from their book to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the Jane Goodall Institute and Global Wildlife Conservation of Austin. In the book, they explain the work these organizations are doing to protect animals.

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at

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