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This month BfK features Jane Ray’s cover for The Twelve Dancing Princesses. We’re particularly delighted to have the opportunity to use this illustration as it enables us to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Orchard Books - they’re 10 this year! And also to thank them for their help in producing our July cover.
Most 'Question' books don't make it into these columns because they're nothing loess than con tricks full of pompous queries devised only to elicit statements of useless information that their compilers couldn't fit into real books. Here, however, the con trick works in reverse as old hand Steve Parker shows us the characteristics of mammals and fishes in a well sequenced flow of information disguished as a series of answers to a succession of endearingly dotty questions. For instance the whole front-cover title of Giraffes is: 'What if Giraffes had short necks, leopards could change their spots, elephants had no trunks, monkeys had no tails and mammals didn't make milk'. By asking what if things were vastly different from how they are, Parker shows us the very features of fishdom and mammalhood that characterise their members. The result is an easy-paced ramble of usefully indexed information from which, without any obvious attempt at an overall thesis, we learn a lot. Friendly pictures too, especially from John Lobban.
One question Mr Parker doesn't ask, though, is 'What if fish didn't have trunks?' Answer, of course, is that they couldn't go swimming - well, not in public, anyway.