Monday, January 12, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Welcome to the Museum: Animalium by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

Oh, did this book bring back memories. When I was a kid, we loved perusing animal encyclopedias. All that knowledge! The pictures!

This is that same experience, updated for the modern child. The book is supposed to be like visiting a museum - but it's waaay more interesting (sorry all my museum friends).

The preface gives a brief explanation of biodiversity and then after the table of contents (or "galleries") you are welcomed to the animalium and invited to browse this museum in a book. An elaborate family tree shows all the animals and more that are covered in the book and is followed by a brief explanation of evolution.

Then, it's time to enter the galleries. Each gallery focuses on a different type of animal; invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The opening spread features a sepia-toned illustration of various creatures on the left and the title page with a list of the gallery contents on the right. The gallery itself introduces the animal family, then features various creatures with detailed, vividly illustrated plates. It ends by introducing a habitat.

The book ends with an extensive index and a list of generic online sources to learn more about the creatures introduced. Physically, be aware that this is a large book. It's 15 inches high and almost a foot wide. The binding appears sturdy, but if you don't have a good shelving solution for oversized titles that might not last long.

The illustrations look exactly like the encyclopedic plates I remember from my childhood with an old-fashioned, static feel and yet they are vividly life-like and exquisitely detailed. However, the real contemporary feel comes from the text. In a bold, readable font and cut into friendly, bite-sized chunks, it informs and guides without overwhelming the reader.

Verdict: This is an intriguing start to what promises to be a beautiful and fascinating series. This will capture the attention of children old enough to read and absorb the text and young enough to enjoy the pictures. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763675080; Published 2014 by Big Picture Press/Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the nonfiction backlist to order


Elisa Bergslien said...

I loved the look of this one too. It was one of the first books that my son grabbed of my Cybils pile. The down side is that he didn't really read - just flipped through it looking at the pictures. This from a kid who is determined to read Origin of the Species this year. :-\

Ah well - it is definitely lovely and the text well done. I will probably get a copy myself, because I am nuts like that.

Jennifer said...

Well, it's the kind of book you browse through, not the kind you read cover-to-cover. I don't think that's a down side (-:)

Elisa Bergslien said...

True it is more of a grazing book. I still wished that my son read at least some of the text though before I had to return it to the library.

It is nicely done.

Jennifer said...

Ha, grazing! I like that better than browsing (-:)