A lavishly illustrated animal encyclopedia that is dense with information and spans the age groups. Younger children will enjoy exploring the wealth of imagery, but the text is aimed at proficient readers of 10 and upwards.
An introductory section looks at the characteristics of all animal life and what distinguishes it from plants and fungi. Clear explanation is given of the animal kingdom and how it is classified before the book concentrates on each of the major groups, from invertebrates and fish to amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Throughout scale is shown visually by comparison of the animal with an adult human figure, a human hand or half a thumb.
The use of computer-generated technology allows for some dramatic images that even the most talented wildlife photographer would find hard to capture – a giant Pacific octopus mid-lunch, a terrifying-looking shoal of red-bellied piranhas, a startling close-up of a snow leopard or a snarling hyena. Photographs are dropped in to highlight details, and there are cut-aways to reveal an animal’s internal structure. Fact boxes and fascinating details are liberally sprinkled on each spread, perfect fodder for statistic-hungry readers, enlivening what is sometimes quite dense text within a complicated layout. A final section entitled Animal Science examines different aspects of the animal kingdom – lifecycles, behaviour, feeding and reproduction as well as habitat and ecosystems.
A colourful and visually exciting reference book for animal lovers, and remarkable value at the price. Christmas may have passed, but the book’s attractive production makes it suitable for a birthday, not just the reference or library shelf.