Monday, February 3, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Best Foot Forward by Ingo Arndt

I was intrigued by the idea of this book and while it did follow through to some extent, I had a few problems with the layout.

So, exactly as the subtitle says, it's "exploring feet, flippers, and claws." It's a little like Steve Jenkins' What do you do with a tail like this? but with photographs. You open it to a giant, full-page spread of a hairy paw and it asks "whose foot is this?" The next spread has a small caption in the top corner saying "feet that walk". The paw is identified as a tiger, which covers one page, and the opposite page shows the undersides of four other feet - a snail, elephant, beetle, and ostrich.

This is the basic layout of the book, which contains "feet that climb" (featuring a gecko), "feet that swim" (featuring a duck), "feet that dig" (featuring a tortoise), "feet that jump" (featuring a kangaroo), and "extraordinary feet" (featuring a lobster). The back matter includes an index of the animals and a brief note about the author.

The one thing that bothered me, was the sometimes confusing grouping of animals. The long-horned beetle, included with the tiger in "feet that walk" should actually be in "feet that climb." In feet that climb, all of the creatures pictured have suction toes of one kind or another...except the chimpanzee, which grips. Also, instead of one animal per panel, there's two pictures and two captions of the red-eyed tree frog, a whole picture of the animal and a close-up of its foot. He does the same thing again for seals in "feet that swim". In "feet that dig" only two other animals are pictured and the captions are set in the two empty squares. In "feet that jump" the squirrel has a full-body picture and a foot picture, there's a picture of a hare's foot, and then an empty square, used for the captions. These aren't major objections, but they do give the book a slightly confused feel, at least for us obsessive types who want all the layouts to be the same. I think it could also be somewhat confusing when trying to show this story to kids - I'd add in pictures of the animals whose feet were featured, to make things clearer.

Verdict: While I did think the layout was confusing, it's a really fascinating concept and quite well-done. I will most likely purchase this (nothing is certain in this vale of tears) and I'll probably use it in storytime at some point, although with some additional stuff. Probably laminated pictures for the flannel board or something.

ISBN: 9780823428571; Published 2007 (Germany)/2013 by Holiday House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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