Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Animal Atlas is a stunning guide to hundreds of the world's species. Sorted by continent and region on oversized, double-page spreads, it offers a wealth of information about the unique and magnificent animals that call those areas home. The South America chapter, for example, has sections dedicated to the Galapagos, Andes, Amazon Rainforest, and Pampas. Additional pages at the front and back of the book include information about how to use the atlas, animal groups (fish, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates, etc.), types of habitats (tundra, grasslands, woodlands, etc.), endangered animals, and "Amazing Animals." Each page features dozens of native animals and descriptive paragraphs for each one, along with photographs of the landscape and gorgeous color drawings of the wildlife. Kenneth Lilly's illustrations are beyond incredible. Honestly, it's easy to forget that they are actually drawings and not photographs. I can only imagine how long it must have taken him to illustrate all of the creatures in this amazing book! I love that each regional spread contains a map, too, showing just where one can find the featured animals. We have all learned so much from this book, and my husband and I get such a kick out of hearing my son talk about (and pretend to be) so many of these different creatures. In the past week alone, he has pretended to be a hog-nosed bat, African jacana, jerboa, bee hummingbird, and marine iguana, among countless others. Just this afternoon, upon seeing some of the characters from the newest Ice Age movie on a bag of Pirate's Booty, he said, "I think that one there must be a colugo." I looked at a critter who vaguely resembled a flying squirrel, and asked him what a colugo was (since I had no idea.) "You know," he replied, shocked at my ignorance. "It lives in Southeast Asia and India." Later, when we had the book nearby, he flipped to the Southeastern Asia and India page and said, "See? There's the colugo." And he was right. It's a flying lemur that looks just like that Ice Age critter. Supposedly this book is for grades 4 and up, but I see no reason why it isn't perfect for animal lovers who are much younger. After all, my little guy is 4 and he is simply fascinated by it. I'm sure there are countless other animal atlases that are more recent (this one was published in 1992), but the information and illustrations in this version are simply amazing. If your chid loves animals and you can find a copy of this book, you will be in for a real treat.