Marc Bekoff's Animals at Play: Rules of the Game is a kids' picture book about ethology — animal behavior — and play. Informative and fun, the book looks at how many species of mammals and fish play together, among children, adults, and in mixed groups or pairs. Bekoff, an ethologist who taught biology at the University of Colorado and co-founded Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is very comfortable communicating ideas to young people in simple terms that nevertheless convey accurate scientific principles.
I loved this book. The subject — play — is one that every kid and parent is immersed in, but perhaps without much conscious thought. By using delightful examples from the animal kingdom, Bekoff invites the reader to investigate the unwritten rules of human play, as with coyotes' insistence on fairness in play, or the way that adult wallabies will "self-handicap" when tussling with adolescents. By linking fun, sociality, apology, fairness, and communication, Bekoff conveys just how fundamental play is to our own lives. What an excellent thing to be reminded of.