- The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins
In this ambitious work Jenkins moves beyond nature picture books to a more comprehensive look at animal life in general, in a size and format to entice browsers, report writers, and voracious readers alike. Material is organized in seven chapters, covering animal taxonomy, family life, senses, predators, defenses, “extreme” traits, and evolution. Subheadings guide researchers quickly to their topic of choice, but the chunks of text are short enough to encourage kids to complete entire sections. Arrays of cut-paper collage animals with short annotations fill most spreads, but each chapter also boasts a double-page spread with a visual surprise (e.g., a swarm of termites, an oversized close-up of an exploding Malaysian ant, a startling lifesized view of a Siberian tiger’s face), as well as at least one chart or diagram that allows readers to compare relevant information for the topic. An excellent glossary is included, along with a lengthy section of “More Animal Facts,” alphabetically organized into a sort of mini encyclopedia. The most clever bonus item, though, is a collaged section on how Jenkins makes his books, from concept, through research, writing, revision, and illustration, to completion. This will be an ideal holiday gift for kids who love animals or who love Steve Jenkins books—and that amounts to a lot of kids.