Indeed, I believed I had fallen into a museum of art, let alone one of natural history, when I first saw this book--so rich and detailed were the astonishing illustrations. Expecting it to be a compilation of works from masters past, I was instead amazed and delighted to discover that every single illustration in this book was created by one woman--Katie Scott.
Get set to be wowed. Goodness knows how long these illustrations took to prepare but they will utterly delight readers of any age. The opening double page spread--The Tree of Animal Life--is a wondrous work of art--as are the following pages of animal phylums, classes and species, richly rendered in the vintage colours you'd expect from botanical or anatomical artists of centuries past.
Meticulously curated and written by Jenny Broom, the book begins with an introduction by Dr Sandra Knapp from the Natural History Museum of London, then features animals by phylum and class from Invertebrates through Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.
As though we really have entered a museum, we 'walk through' the species and learn more about their general construct, featuring as many as 9 or 10 types at a time. We also learn more about selected species, along with their habitat.
Due to its sophisticated text content, Animalium would suit children aged 10 and older, however, younger kids will enormously appreciate the illustrations, just as we did as 6-year-olds, leafing through Encyclopedia Britannica, wide-eyed with wonder though understanding little.
Grab a cup of tea (or twenty) and invest time in this book. Preferably with a child on your lap.
See our review of Botanicum.
Author: Jenny Broom
Illustrator: Katie Scott
Publisher: The Five Mile Press, $39.95
Publication Date: 1 October 2014
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Compendium