Car-sized crabs by Anna Claybourne

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2013.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Picture book. Animals. Non fiction. There is so much to like about this informative and colourful picture book, that I don't know where to start. The front cover shows a Japanese spider crab, and with the subtitle And other animal giants the reader knows that they are in for an array of gigantic animals. Opening the book they will find information about a variety of land animals (elephants, rhinoceros, hippos, polar bears... ), sea animals (giant crab, various sharks, squid, jellyfish... ), birds (condor, albatross, penguins... ), slimy things (anaconda, dragons, frogs... ) and creepy crawlies (weta, wasp, landsnail... ).
All are gigantic, and the double page spread devoted to each will intrigue the readers further. My eye was first drawn to the size scale at the bottom of each page, showing how big each creature is compared to the size of a man. This gives an immediate appreciation of the difference in size and why the creature is included in the book. On the page is a sequence of photographs showing the animal in all its glory, and in its habitat, while the informative and lucid text outlines the things readers would want to know. A 'did you know' circle is on each page giving a fact that is a little out of the ordinary, while other small snippets of facts are given around the colourful page.
I was most intrigued with the giant weta, as I am about to go to New Zealand. On the double page for this insect is a man's hand with the insect resting on top. This gives an immediate awareness of its size, and will draw gasps of appreciation from the readers. On the same page is a smaller picture of the animal, showing where it lives, while the text outlines its habitat, habits, what it eats and how New Zealanders treat the animal. In the fact box is information about its scientific name and what it means, while another paragraph gives its dimensions (10 cms long, a span of 20 cms, and weighing as much as three mice! ). A world map showing where all these creatures reside, a most useful index and fascinating glossary complete this informative and attractive book.
Fran Knight