Extinctopedia by Serenna Quarello. Illus. by Alessio Alcini

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This striking large hard cover collaboration with Smithsonian is a treat for those readers who enjoy finding out about often unknown facts related to the animal kingdom. In this book, there is information from the past - those animals that are extinct like Martha the last passenger pigeon and George the last yellow-tipped tree snail whose personal stories are particularly sad as their demise was due to human incompetence, and the present where many creatures are endangered.

Without a contents page, the reader is encouraged to browse each double page section to discover their own facts and interests. There is information about the Dodo, extinct since mid-1600 mainly caused by invasive species brought to Mauritius; and the last Australian Thylacine (Tasmanian Devil) that died in 1936 in the Hobart Zoo. 

Some of the topics covered include information about those creatures declared extinct but rediscovered such as the mountain pygmy possum and the Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue lizard; preserving animals; legendary creatures such as the Quetzal, the bird-snake of the Maya; reasons for extinction: keeping track of endangered species; strange animals like the Axolotl; unusual and unique animals such as the purple frog from India; bugs; marine animals; Oceania which mentions in detail the koala, wombat, bilby and numbat; and importantly information about what we can do now to protect the animal kingdom. In the final pages is a detailed index which is followed by a handy glossary.

Extinctopedia is a fascinating read with stunning illustrations in both black and white and soft colour tones, which will captivate both young and old.

Themes: Extinction, Animal Kingdom, World Habitats, Survival, Endangered Species, Diversity.

Kathryn Beilby