Reviews /

Finding Home: Amazing Places Animals Live

Authored by Mike Unwin
Illustrated by Jenni Desmond
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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‘This book explores the homes of 20 different animals around the world.’ The twenty animals featured in Finding Home: Amazing Places Animals Live include more familiar creatures such as the polar bear, meerkat and snow leopard and lesser-known ones such as the cathedral termite, the common tailorbird and remora. This is a fascinating and enticing information book.

Mike Unwin’s text is always engaging and lively. The reader is often directly addressed. Comparisons ground the information, for example, Unwin explains, ‘The snow leopard’s tail wraps around its face like a woollen scarf as it curls to sleep amongst the rocks.’ ‘Puffins are pigeon-sized seabirds.’ Sentences are not overly long, and the wealth of information shared is organised carefully so that it is easily digestible, guiding and informing the reader. We learn where in the world each animal is found; how the animals tend for their young; the animals’ behaviours; the dangers they face and of course we learn about their habitats. We are invited to care about these creatures and understand their uniqueness.

Jenni Desmond’s illustrations complement the written text brilliantly, subtly teaching the reader about each animal and its habitat. Through careful use of perspective, we can see the incredible size and scale of the social weavers’ nests. The sheer number of Mexican free-tailed bats expresses the movement and noise of their annual gathering in Bracken Cave, Texas. The image accompanying information about cathedral termites shows us other animals that live in northern Australia. The snow leopard, polar bear and orangutan stare directly out at the reader as if in a quiet plea for compassion. The images are captivating and emotive.

The design of the book is straightforward. There is a contents page, and each double page spread devoted to one animal has a similar layout: a title, subheading and information about the animal which is signposted by font, placing and sizing. The main body of text is carefully presented against a clean background. In the final double page, accompanied by a world map, Mike Unwin considers how our planet is made up, like a jigsaw, of different habitats and he explains how we as humans have put these habitats at risk. He implores the reader to be mindful of planet Earth. It is a powerful conclusion.

This is a great book; it invites readers to appreciate and feel wonder for the animals explored within it, and they will. It is a beautiful book for the classroom or library and could easily be used to support curriculum teaching. I think Finding Home is a book to return to, to share and to savour. I can imagine reading it aloud during dedicated story times, or watching children read this together. It certainly invites discussion and close looking. But this book would also make a special gift.