Australian animals are ever-intriguing, and this large-format picture book provides a visually stunning experience for young armchair travelers and their elders.
Most of the double-page spreads feature two often-related animals (bottlenose dolphin and great white shark, for instance), although a few splendidly concentrate on one animal. There are also several spreads with four different animals. Bancroft, an Aboriginal artist who has created textiles, fashions, paintings and illustrations in many picture books, uses eye-popping colors, concentric circles, pointillist dots, zigzagging lines and other elements of Australian indigenous art to portray animals and their environments in highly stylized forms. An undulating ribbon of changing color runs through the book, uniting the pages; each animal’s name appears on this wide stripe that cuts each page in two. Occasionally, as on the cockatoo and galah spread, readers may be confused by the labels, as both pages include examples of each avian species. The kangaroo and wallaby page is also difficult to decipher, as the animals are similar, and the illustrator has mixed them together. More sophisticated readers may enjoy the visual puzzle. Descriptions of each animal, in alphabetical order, are given at the end, but the two or three sentences sometimes do not provide enough information, as in the case of “reef life,” and should be supplemented with other sources.
Striking illustrations, but sometimes light on factual details. (Informational picture book. 3-7)