Vanished animals from around the world, 26 extinct and one sole survivor, are here displayed on oversized pages in a beautifully designed album.
This French import (by way of New Zealand) is an appealing combination of fact and fancy. Each animal is presented on a double-page spread. On the left, a series of often humorous cartoon panels describe tradition and myth. On the right, under the English and Latin names and a short descriptive paragraph, a single, large panel shows the creature in a natural context. These images have flat, muted colors and carefully inked details. A medallion with fast facts and silhouettes shows the animal in comparison to humans, and insets on the main image add further information. Organized into four general areas, the Americas, Africa, Eurasia and Oceania, these animals appear again at the end in four panels of a frieze, chronologically according to their disappearance, from 15,000 years ago to today. Silhouettes grace the endpapers and an opening world map as well. From the Australian long-beaked echidna to the Galápagos tortoise called Lonesome George (the "sole survivor," now, sadly, deceased), the range is impressive. (Two unfortunate errors early in the book will surprise American readers: the claims that humans arrived in the Americas only 10,000 years ago and that the Bering Strait separates that landmass from Europe.)
Otherwise, a handsome and useful work. (Nonfiction. 9-15)