'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 18 July 2011

Review: Animalia

I just about squealed out loud with pure delight when I saw this gem sitting alone in my local second-hand bookstore. Even the booksellers oohhed and ahhhed as I passed it over the counter.

Graeme Base’s perennial classic was first released in 1986 and was one of my absolute favourites when I was a child. Actually, reading it again after all these years … it still is.

Animalia captures your imagination completely; there are so many levels in this book! At the very beginning is a charming poem from Graeme where he invites the reader to discover up to a thousand things, or maybe more – it’s up to you to keep the score.

Graeme has also rather cheekily hidden a picture of himself as a child on every page. There is a beautiful illustration for every letter of the alphabet and a poem on each page that uses each letter in beautiful alliteration, depicting each scene.

If the reader chooses to look deeper, they will find scattered, hidden images of many other items beginning with that letter. You can literally spend hours searching for them all. There is always something new to discover.

My personal favourite discovery is on the K page – Kid Kookaburra and Kelly Kangaroo Kidnapping Kitty Koala. This was the page I always checkout out first as a wee whipper-snapper (because my name is Kelly). Now I am delighted to find, upon viewing all these years later, in the background some keystone cops skidding around the corner, batons in hand.

Now, this would have gone right over my head as a kid. I love that there is no patronization within the images.

Animalia is available in both hardback and paperback. For the ΓΌber fan there is also an Animalia colouring book and an Animalia app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

I absolutely recommend having this book on your child’s shelf; it’s one that you will both adore time and time again.

Title: Animalia
Author/Illustrator: Graeme Base
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, A$19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 November 1990
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780140541120
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture book