With its imposing trim size (nearly 13" 18"), this striking volume is almost literally a book to get lost in. Jolivet (Alphablock) matches the grandeur of the scale with large, dramatic illustrations of animals, insects and the like, at least 30 per spread, for a total exceeding 350 species. Working with a zoology consultant from the French National Museum of Natural History, the artist (who is French) groups the creatures by a stimulating variety of themes: natural habitat ("Hot"; "Cold"; "Freshwater"; "In the seas"), appearance ("Feathered"; "Horned"), size ("Large and small"), etc. These categories appear in modest type at the bottom right-hand corner of each spread, inviting readers to find for themselves what the assembled birds and beasts have in common. Jolivet also encourages close scrutiny by challenging kids to find the chameleon (yes, it changes color) planted in each spread. But even without these extra incentives, the audience will almost certainly want to scrutinize the art. Rendered in harmonious combinations of strong, vibrant colors, thickly outlined, the illustrations look like woodcuts, dazzlingly printed on soft yellow ground in dynamic arrangements. The name of each species is set in thin type, curving to mirror the angle of, say, the giraffe's neck or the head of a triggerfish. Four pages of endmatter index the represented species and supply additional information about each. Big as this book is, it will more likely whet than sate readers' appetites.
A teeming zoo of creatures swims, flies, and stampedes through the nearly two-foot-tall pages of this beautifully illustrated French import. There are few words and no story. Instead, Jolivet groups her animals loosely into sometimes rhyming categories related to habitats, habits, or appearance: "In the Trees, "In the Seas, "At Night," "Spots and Stripes," and so on. Rendered in bright colors and in the bold, clean lines and graphic contrasts of linoleum cuts, the animals appear in chaotic spreads that may be more decorative than instructive. But the book's magnificent size and diversity of animals make a powerful visual impact that will easily attract preschoolers to the expansive pages, where they'll point to the animals they know and discover a world of new species. Browsers will also like the hide-and-seek game offered by a hidden chameleon on each page. An appendix, printed in tiny type, offers one or two facts about each of the many animals featured in the book. An unusual, and unusually handsome, offering.
School Library Journal
Jolivet presents striking, oversized panoramas of living creatures from all corners of the globe. The animals appear in eclectic groups such as "underground," "at night," or "black and white" rather than more conventional divisions. The resulting patterns reveal the variety yet interconnectedness of the living world. Younger children will enjoy hunting for the chameleon that can be found on each spread, which may be challenging since it changes color and posture from page to page. Adults may consult the four pages of notes written in small type at book's end to learn a fact or two about each animal. However, the text is really a supplement to the splendid illustrations. Besides its attraction for browsers and its potential as an attention-getting introduction to studies about animals, the book could serve as a stimulus for students working on graphic-design projects. Consequently, the audience for this lovely volume may extend well beyond the primary grades.