CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 2. . . .September 11, 2009
Eduardo Bustos. Illustrated by Lucho Rodríguez.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
24 pp., hardcover, $14.99.
Exotic animals-Juvenile literature.
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 2-5.
Review by Aileen Wortley.
Koala: My home is in Australia. My fur is soft and my ways are gentle. I carry my babies on my back as we feast on the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. Just like hands, my fingers grip the branches to keep me safe.
Spotted Owl: My enormous eyes rest during the day, but at night, I'm perched up in a tree, scanning the ground beneath me. You'll find me in North America, but don't try to creep up behind me because I will see you. My head can turn almost all the way around.
Wild Animals was first published in 2007 as Que Animales! by Ediciones Tecolote in Mexico. This book is an excellent example of a title where both text and illustrations are extremely competent but which together create an exotic work much stronger than each of its parts. This creative picture book, aimed at children aged 2-5 but possessing features which will also capture the interest of older children, is an introduction to a variety of wild animals from around the world.
Eduardo Bustos has a degree in biology and a background in teaching at both junior and secondary levels. He describes 11 fascinating animals, (Hippopotamus, Yak, Hyena, Koala, Leopard, Sloth, Fox, Spectacled Bear, Fennec Fox, Spotted Owl and Lion) in just a few sentences with a double page spread being devoted to each. Readers learn of their habitat, country or continent of origin and some special feature or features that make them unique. The information provided is told from the animal's perspective and is just enough to tantalize, encouraging readers to learn more about these intriguing creatures. The language used in this small book has a spareness and gentleness which verges on the poetic.
Lucho Rodríguez has had a career in graphic design and has received awards for his children's book illustration. Each creature is shown from two angles: a side pose of the complete body and a close-up of the animal's head as it faces the reader. The art work is stylized, with each picture being comprised of almost geometric components to complete the whole. The overall result is strikingly beautiful and cleverly achieved. In this edition, some of the artwork in the book is included on the reverse of the dust jacket making an attractive poster for promotional purposes.
Wild Animals book would be an asset in any library and a great book to share one on one with an individual child. It could also be used with great effect in story time, with the informational sections being used as riddles for the children to guess before revealing the associated picture.
Aileen Wortley, a retired librarian, lives in Toronto, ON.
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