From echidnas to paddle worms, this broad guide to the animal kingdom introduces more than 700 animals, organized in groups, illustrated with detailed watercolors and photographs, and presented in conjunction with features on particular types of animals and general animal behavior.
Each of six chapters opens with a striking double-page photograph of an iconic member of the broad group followed by another spread of general information answering the question, “What is a…?” (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, or invertebrate). Each section includes numerous specific examples, organized again in groups such as “hoofed mammals,” “seahorses, stonefish, and relatives,” “spiders and scorpions.” The entries come from all over the world; some are common and others rare, but all are interesting in some way. Each creature is presented with its common and Latin names, an image, a descriptive paragraph, and a card noting size, general range and habitat. These entries are arranged unevenly on a faintly lined page topped with guide words. The design sometimes makes it harder to connect the image with the explanation but is far more attractive and appealing than that of a traditional encyclopedia. There are few glaring inaccuracies (elk and moose are not the same) but only occasional use of European rather than North American names (divers for loons). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals publishes simultaneously.
For browsers and researchers alike, this is a useful and inviting display—and a bargain. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-14)