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