Reviews /

Amazing Animals

Authored by Sabrina Weiss
Illustrated by Paul Davis
Published by What on Earth Books

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The fourth in the Our Amazing World series released by the excellent non-fiction publishers What on Earth Books, Amazing Animals is a beautifully illustrated picture book which draws the reader in with both its descriptions and its illustrations. Using a muted palette, I appreciated the tones as many recently published non-fiction titles can feel like an assault on my senses and create information overload.

In Amazing Animals the grouping of creatures is intriguing. Sometimes we have a double page spread on an environment or region and on other occasions animal behaviours are explored such as parenting or transformation skills. This kept me interested and could lead to interesting discussions about how we categorise animals. As well as poring over the beautiful illustrations, I got lost in the often filmic quality of the prose: ‘Orangutans (1.5 metres, Borneo and Sumatra) are known as the gardeners of the forest. As these red-haired apes traverse the treetops of the rainforest, they break off dead branches, allowing the sunlight to reach the forest floor.’ At the centre we also have a gate-fold world map so that the reader can locate all the amazing animals and consider animal migrations. The picture book explores terminology in the introduction and provides a useful glossary and index.

This picture book and probably the whole series has earned its place in schools. In Key Stage One I would concentrate on a couple of text boxes which relate to our science topic but then I would let the children explore the book independently and see what questions they come up with. In other Key Stages the information, layout and illustrations will be warmly welcomed. There is plenty of scope for discussions around endangered species,  environmental impact and evolution. A worthy addition to every school library, primary and secondary.