To give readers ways to visualize the idea of rarity, Bornoff invites viewers to pick out 13 threatened creatures hidden in as many intricately patterned landscapes.
The notion is clever, but the execution is wanting. Each of the rare or endangered animals, which range from polar bear and panda to addax and bilby, is rendered as a miniscule figure lurking in a characteristic but stylized and often fancifully colored habitat that is expanded, usually through tessellation, to the edges of the page. The author provides hints in an accompanying rhyme—“Up in the trees, so as not to be seen, / hangs a three-fingered creature with fur brownish-green”—and at the end, there’s a larger image and a quick comment about each. But readers are likely to be left scratching their heads anyway. She renders her bison’s “dusty plains” and “tall waving grasses” as mountains covered in pine trees, arbitrarily adds a background of black stripes to a forested setting just to make the zebra a bit harder to spot, and places a field of ice floes behind a screen of blue snowflakes. Also, she includes the red squirrel in her selected cast even though, as she admits, it’s really only a rarity in the U.K. (where this book originates).
Seek-and-find fans will enjoy the challenge, but both the point and much of the informational detail are lost amid the artsy touches. (Picture book. 6-8)