Review Blog

Oct 06 2016

Animalium by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9781760404307
(Age: 8+) Museums, Evolution. A museum to visit any time you like is presented in this comfortably hand sized compendium of plants and animals from around the world.
First published in Britain by Big Picture Press, the books that I have read (Historium, Botanicum and Animalium) are part of a series of non fiction books, entreating young readers to look more closely at the plants and animals presented. Their website tells us 'Big Picture Press is a new list of highly illustrated books launched in September 2013, publishing as an imprint of the Templar Company Limited (UK and Australia) and Candlewick Press (US and Canada). We believe that books should be visually intelligent, surprising, and accessible to readers of all ages, abilities, and nationalities.'
And they have certainly striven to achieve that aim. Historium (2015) is a highly illustrated and fascinating offering of historical objects found in the British Museum.
Animalium is another in the same milieu, offering incredibly detailed illustrations of plants and animals across the world. The large version of this book was chosen as the Sunday Times Children's Book of the Year in 2014. Opening any page offers a plate of illustrations on one side with information and a guide to the illustrations on the verso.
Most pages are animals of the European, Asian and African continents with a few showing animals our students would know, although the galah may elicit a few laughs.
Presented in evolutionary order, the first pages deal with Porifera or sponges, which developed some 540 million years ago, followed by the Cephalopods and Fish leading up to the Primates and Hooved Animals. Each page offers highly sophisticated illustrations by Katie Scott, reminiscent of woodblock prints used in such books in the past. On the other page, details are given about these animals and plants, and interspersed with these pages are those detailing habitats like Woodland, Mangroves and Rainforest. I can imagine some children encouraged to dip in and out of this book, and see it more of a library tome to be used by a class. A fascinating read.
Fran Knight

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