________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


A to Z of Animals: An Animal Expedition.

Rachel Williams. Illustrated by Peter David Scott.
Toronto, ON: Kpk/Key Porter Books, 2009.
64 pp., hardcover, $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-55470-244-2.

Subject Headings:
Animals-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4

Twenty-two spectacular paintings by wildlife artist Peter David Scott fill the pages of this unusual animal alphabet book. Intricately detailed full-page illustrations of exotic creatures, from anteaters to zorillas, are depicted in their natural habitats in delicate yet bold colours. Double page illustrations of elephants and egrets on the Serengeti, koalas and kangaroos in the Australian outback, monkeys and macaws in the jungle and polar bears and ptarmigan in the Arctic will delight the readers' visual sense as they page through this beautiful book.

internal art

     Scott's paintings are incredibly vivid and realistic. "T" is for a Bengal tiger whose fearful symmetry and yellow-eyed gaze may well give small listeners a shiver of fear. On the "O" page, an evil-eyed octopus waves suctioned tentacles around in a menacing underwater ballet. The double page spread of an open-mouthed saltwater crocodile surrounded by brilliant green birdwing butterflies is yet another example of the artist's superb skill at portraying wildlife.

     Young listeners will enjoy finding other creatures, whose names begin with the same letter as the animal focussed on, lurking in the background of each page. The last section of the book is comprised of 15 pages entitled "Amazing Facts from the A to Z of Animals" wherein surprising little nuggets of information are offered in language quite appropriate to curious children from 5 to 9 years of age. As an added bonus, there is, as well, a good deal that an adult may learn from this section of the book; for instance, who knew that an anteater's tongue was covered with hundreds of sharp spines? Or that, if a saltwater crocodile loses one of his 66 incisors, another will grow to replace it? Or that an iguana drops down a beard-like dewlap to scare off onlookers?

     From the point of view of art and information, A to Z of Animals: An Animal Expedition is a book well worth making accessible to young readers in the school or home collection. It will be enjoyed not only by the very young, who will love the pictures, but also by the older elementary age reader who has a perennial attraction to "amazing" facts.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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