Browne really cranks up the color intensity in this gorgeous, large-trim portrait gallery of primates.
Beginning with “1 gorilla” and counting up to “10 lemurs,” he presents on each spread a formally arranged head and upper-body close-up, with each subject placed against a plain white backdrop facing the viewer. Most are smiling, though as the groupings increase in size, they begin to take on the look of class photos, with a range of expressions on view and eyes sometimes playfully glancing to the side rather than looking directly out. Nonetheless, every visible eye gleams with steady, clear intelligence. Each ape is painted in hair-fine detail, in variegated hues that—particularly for the titular simian and the fiery orange parent and child orangutans that follow—glow incandescently. Browne closes with a self-portrait followed by a multicultural gathering of humans spanning the age spectrum, all with features and expressions that clearly echo those seen previously on hairier faces.
The former British Children’s Laureate has a simple point—“All primates. / All one family. / All my family… / and yours!”—and he makes it in a visually compelling way. (Picture book. 3-8)