Picture Book Snob
BLOG TOUR: How to Track a Sabre-Toothed Tiger by Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves
Read our review, see our top five facts about sabre-toothed tigers and learn about the inspiration behind the Albie stories...
Albie is one of Caryl Hart's most popular creations. He celebrated his first decade in picture books last summer, and How to Track a Sabre-Toothed Tiger is his eleventh adventure! Albie first appeared in Supermarket Zoo, an inventive story about a shopping trip where the aisles are stocked with wild animals instead of groceries.
In this latest outing, Albie is playing in his back garden when he is suddenly whisked back to the stone age. He embarks on a search for a tiny sabre-toothed tiger, taking little readers with him. I love how immersive these stories are and how they transform everyday events and mundane activities into magnificent escapades. They remind me of the games and imaginary worlds children create themselves.
As well as being an entertaining and exciting journey through time, How to Track a Sabre-Toothed Tiger is also educational. There’s a list of items to look out for at the start of the book which adds to the fun. We see stone age homes, tools, food, musical instruments and early forms of art, and we’re introduced to several prehistoric animals too. Ed Eaves' illustrations are wonderful; I love how dynamic, detailed and atmospheric they are with lush, vibrant foliage and cosy cave dwellings. There's so much wildlife - not just in the scenes set in the past but in the present day too. There are hedgehogs and ladybirds to spot as well as more exotic mammals like woolly rhinos, of which I had been previously unaware!
I was inspired by this story to investigate sabre-toothed tigers further and here are my top five facts about them:
1. They’re also known as Smilodon, a name derived from the Greek words for scalpel and tooth.
2. They could weigh up to 600 lbs and their front teeth were 7 - 11 inches long.
3. Although these prominent teeth were enormous and extremely sharp, they were quite fragile and easily broken.
4. 3,000 Smilodon fossils were recovered from the La Brea tar pits of California after apparently getting stuck while attempting to eat animals already trapped there.
5. No one knows for certain why they went extinct, but it may have been due to dwindling prey, humans hunting them and/or climate change.
The whole family has enjoyed growing more familiar with the stone age thanks to this brilliant book. I would have loved the Albie stories when I was a child. It's a pity these adventures weren't around then, but even better to share them with my girls (four and six) who are mad about them.
We chatted to Caryl back in January and asked her a couple of questions about this series. You can read the full interview here and see our discussion of Albie below…
We’ve just discovered the Albie series and my two girls LOVE Albie and how these books turn mundane events and activities into exciting and surprising adventures. Was your own childhood similar to Albie's? Did you use your imagination to transform boring tasks when you were young and then when your own children were little?
I’m so glad you’re loving these stories! I had a great childhood and growing up, my parents often referred to our games and outings as adventures. They were very hands-on and we did lots of activities together including long bike rides, building dens and exploring. They were very child-centric in the way they brought us up, giving us the power to make decisions and encouraging us to challenge ourselves work things out for ourselves. As parents ourselves, we have always tried to do this for our own children and definitely used imaginative play to help make everyday activities exciting. We are the kind of parents who expect our (now adult) children to take responsibility for their own learning and life choices, and tried to encourage them to be independent thinkers. Hopefully it’s working out for them now they are young adults!
We love how the Albie books give a hint about his next adventure on their final pages and it’s such a clever idea. How did you think of this – was it inspired by anything in particular?
The first book, Supermarket Zoo was written as a stand-alone very early on in my career. In
fact it was one of the first books I ever got published. The following year, I wrote How to Grow a Dinosaur and sent it to my editor at Simon and Schuster to see if she thought it might be a suitable second story for Albie. Luckily for me, she loved it and the series was born.
The idea of having a clue at the end of each story evolved from the second shopping list at the back of Supermarket Zoo and from seeing Ed Eaves’ rough illustration at the end of How to Grow a Dinosaur. His illustration inspired me to create Welcome to Alien School and the rest followed on from there. Read the full interview with author Caryl Hart. How to Track a Sabre-Toothed Tiger was published by Simon & Schuster on 5th August 2021 - see this book on the publisher's website
Purchase signed copies of this book and others directly from author Caryl Hart Visit CarylHart.com to find free downloadable activities for all the Albie stories
See more books by Caryl Hart reviewed by Picture Book Snob A huge thanks to author Caryl Hart and Simon & Schuster for inviting us on this tour and for sharing this fabulous story with us - all opinions expressed are our own. Don't forget to visit all the stops on this spectacular two-week tour:
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