Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: The Animal Book

Looking for a book that the whole family can enjoy? Try “The Animal Book” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $21.99, ages 6 up), written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. 
Known for his masterful collage illustrations (he won a 2004 Caldecott Honor for “What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?”), Jenkins often focuses on the animal world in his books. Here he’s brought all of his knowledge and artistic talent together to produce a treasury of intriguing animal facts and figures. 
Subtitled “A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – and Most Surprising – Animals on Earth,” Jenkins’ newest book is great for dipping into, or for reading a chapter at a time.  Anyone from elementary school-age up who’s interested in animals – and that’s just about everyone! – will find something to like in “The Animal Book;” even adults will find themselves marveling over what they see and learn. The book is packed with intriguing facts, and Jenkins writes smoothly and well about everything from the way animals blend into their environment to which animals are deadliest to humans. And then there are the colorful collage illustrations that beautifully bring hundreds of animals to life on the page. 
For those wondering how he creates his illustrations, Jenkins has put together a short video explaining his process, and he also explains how he works in an October  interview about “The Animal Book” with Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of The Horn Book, the highly-respected journal of children’s literature.  “The Animal Book” also has been discussed on the Heavy Medal blog, which focuses on books that could be possibilities for the Newbery Medal (although no one really knows, of course, as the process is top secret).
(Note: My write-up of “The Animal Book” is based on a review copy I received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)

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