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The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth

by Steve Jenkins

Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2013
208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-547-55799-1

Age 7 and older

If you’ve ever thought Steve Jenkins seems to have been born to create books about the natural world, the introduction to this compendium just about proves it to be true as he shares his early fascination with both animals and bookmaking. In this treasure trove of information, Jenkins relates fascinating facts about 300 different animals, looking at them in sections that examine various qualities, traits and behaviors (Family, Animal Senses, Predators, Defenses, and Animal Extremes, such as size, habitat, and life span). An introductory chapter talks about the scientific classification of “Animal” as a kingdom that includes two groups—vertebrates and invertebrates—with various subgroups. The penultimate chapter, “The Story of Life,” looks at evolution, natural selection, variation and mutation and other elements of survival, extinction, and change that have shaped life on earth. As always, Jenkins combines dramatic, eye-catching collage images of the many animals he’s exploring with clever and succinct writing that focuses on one or more intriguing elements about each. Some of the artwork has been reused from his earlier volumes, but it and other illustrations are fresh and dynamic in this new context. And where does he get his ideas? In the closing chapter, “Making Books,” Jenkins documents the process for his books, from the original idea through research, preliminary art, final illustration, and production timeline, to give kids a sense of what goes into the book they hold in their hands. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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