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Children's Nonfiction General

Beastly Puzzles

A Brain-Boggling Animal Guessing Game

by (author) Rachel Poliquin

illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
May 2019
General, Activity Books, Zoology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 5
  • Reading age: 7 to 10


This book asks children: If you're given a list of features and characteristics, can you guess which animal they make? This might seem easy enough. But solving the puzzles in this book is deviously, outrageously, almost impossibly tricky! Though the thirteen animals included are easily recognizable --- such as polar bear, snail, ostrich, pufferfish --- the clues are unexpected. For example: “3 billiard balls,” “dinosaur feet” and “five feather dusters.” And to further complicate matters, the clues are presented in scenarios unrelated to the animals --- the ostrich is composed of items in a “gentlemen's den” and the pufferfish clues are items in a spy submarine. Once readers make a guess (or if they get stumped!), they can open the gatefold to reveal the animal, with each clue explained and lots of additional fascinating facts.

Author Rachel Poliquin's concept for this intriguing, one-of-a-kind book is a spin on early natural histories, which introduced new animals by describing them as a hodgepodge of parts taken from familiar creatures. A beaver, for example, was described as being composed of a flounder, an otter, goose feet, squirrel paws and a rabbit's front teeth. The back matter includes a note explaining this, accompanied by visual references. Artfully and intricately illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler, this innovative book offers an engaging mix of art and information that's sure to pique readers' curiosity. It works perfectly to enhance a broad range of life sciences curriculum topics, including animal adaptations, characteristics, evolution, ecology, habitats, ecosystems, biodiversity and food webs. The guessing-game format encourages inquiry-based learning --- and plenty of fun!

About the authors

Rachel Poliquin is a writer and curator engaged with the cultural and poetic history of the natural world. She has curated taxidermy exhibits for the Museum of Vancouver and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia. Poliquin is the author of, a website dedicated to exploring the cultural history of taxidermy.

Rachel Poliquin's profile page

Byron Eggenschwiler is an award-winning illustrator whose recent books include The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason, Operatic by Kyo Maclear (starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal and Quill & Quire), Coyote Tales by Thomas King and Beastly Puzzles by Rachel Poliquin (starred review from School Library Journal). Byron’s work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Walrus, GQ and O, The Oprah Magazine. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Byron Eggenschwiler's profile page


  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Short-listed, Information Book Award, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Unknown, Maine Student Book Award, Maine Library Association
  • Unknown, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Winner, OLA Best Bets, Ontario Library Association

Editorial Reviews

... children and adults alike will have a blast guessing each animal.

School Library Journal, starred review

This book is a superb combination of problem solving, picture searching and animal science.—Calgary Herald

... a fresh take on one of the more traditional kidlit categories.—Quill & Quire, starred review

... highly enjoyable and engaging ...—CM Magazine

Definitely bamboozling---but in a good way, as exercises in unconventional logic.

Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Rachel Poliquin

Other titles by Byron Eggenschwiler

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