Join Toronto author and illustrator Karen Patkau as she explores the world of insects, mammals, sea jellies, reptiles, amphibians, birds, crustaceans, arachnids, and mollusks. From extremely large creatures, such as the blue whale, Chinese giant salamander, and goliath tarantula, to extremely small ones, such as the bumblebee bat, dwarf gecko, and fairy shrimp, embark on this informative, beautifully illustrated voyage of discovery. Even the simple fact-filled text is enchantingly presented in the voices of the animals themselves.
A glossary, map endpapers, and handy charts — introducing the concepts of scale and proportion by comparing measurements of animals that are “Big” and “Really Big” to “Small” and “Really Small” — make this book a must-have for parents, schools, and libraries alike.
Patkau (Don't Eat Spiders) endeavors to show relative size within various phyla and classes of the animal kingdom. After the first two spreads contrast the blue whale with the red ant, further comparisons occur within specific classes, such as mammals (the African elephant paired with the bumblebee bat) and birds (the ostrich coupled with the bee hummingbird). Since the species' habitats vary, Patkau presents the spreads with three-quarters of the picture plane dominated by the larger creature, and the abutting smaller, vertically rectangular panel reserved for the tiny one. Each animal narrates simple, well-chosen facts in clear language (e.g., for the bee hummingbird: "Hear my wings hummmm as I fly. I am an acrobat in the air"). The highly stylized seemingly computer-enhanced images sacrifice scientific verisimilitude for graphic panache. For example, each border between the paired animals is visually breeched by elements from the adjacent composition, whether they be leafy plants or an elephant's trunk and tusks. Since the correspondence between the depicted sizes of the paired animals is unclear, Patkau appends two spreads that address, albeit somewhat confusingly, the comparative sizes with grids, visual depictions and measurements in meters and feet. Endpapers purport to show habitat by imposing animal silhouettes on a world map, further clouding the issue of scale. The illustrations make it attractive as a browsing book for young animal lovers, but problematic as an introductory science title. Ages 6-9.