Stevenson, in her authorial debut, presents readers with seven gorgeous habitats and the 293 animals hiding within them, inviting children to count each animal and try to find them all.
Amazingly lifelike details rendered in gouache bring the flora and fauna of each habitat to life; colors and sizes, if not proximity, imitate the real world. Beginning in the swamp, Stevenson takes readers to the desert, a rain forest, the savanna, a deciduous forest, an Arctic scene (labeled “Hide-and-Seek in the Snow”) and a coral reef. Full-bleed double-page spreads stretch across the gutter, the only text the header and a question: “Can you find 40 animals?” A turn of the page reveals the same scene, condensed, the margins presenting information about the habitat and each animal pictured. Numbers on the scene make it easy to match the animals with their descriptions. However, it’s also easy to spot the animals—none are truly using their abilities to camouflage themselves in the scenery, taking much of the fun, as well as the apparent point, from the book. While a brief introduction describes what camouflage is and why it is important, readers will see no evidence of it within the scenes.
For a solid explanation of camouflage, stick with Carolyn Otto and Megan Lloyd’s What Color is Camouflage? (1996), and for a story that incorporates it, try Narelle Oliver’s Twilight Hunt: A Seek-and-Find Book (2007). (Informational picture book. 6-10)