Friday, January 27, 2017

Children’s Book Review, Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move! is a children’s picture book by Anna Wright, published by Faber (Allen and Unwin in Australia) (2017.) RRP: $Au24.99

From the publisher:

Anna Wright's stunning introduction to non-fiction and the natural world is enlivened by her gorgeously sophisticated and fun art style which mixes pen and ink, watercolour and fabric collage. Find out what 'pronking' is and how one jellyfish can become two in the humorous descriptions. Both educational and beautiful Anna's unique picture book shows the character of these animals beyond their familiar forms.

I have a definite weakness for picture books that are a visual feast! Wright uses pen, ink, watercolour and collage to capture the animals and their minimal backgrounds. The collage choice is fascinating, with Wright using what seems like scraps of fabric to build her illustrations. For instance, with the jellyfish, delicate translucent fabric gives these sea creatures a flowing grace. With the zebras, one is more traditional, and the others celebrate zany black and white patterns instead, and in the accompanying text we discover that each zebra stripe pattern is unique (although perhaps not quite as unique as polka dots!)

While these rich, textured and at times whimsical illustrations add humour and energy to the book, the chosen text is fact-based. However, these are not dry, dusty facts. Wright has carefully chosen information that will grab a young reader’s interest. The animals chosen are varied - we meet crabs from Christmas Island, Southern Carmine Bee Eaters from Africa, springbok and starlings. Wright advises readers to keep watch for animals large and small - “See if you can spot them wiggle, shimmer or dance.” - and reminds us that “We truly do live in a magical world.” That magic, along with joy and drama, is certainly celebrated in Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move! I believe it's a wonderful resource for libraries looking for books that are both educational and beautiful.

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