Part oversized album and part encyclopedia, this “museum” of the animal kingdom showcases its variety and diversity with numerous examples from around the world.
What distinguishes this collection from similar overviews is its presentation. The illustrations look like nature prints from long ago, but unlike those old engravings and lithographs, these fine-lined drawings began with pen and ink and were colored digitally. Each image is labeled with a number or letters keyed to a gloss that includes identification (including Latin name and size) and a general explanation, usually on the opposite page. Section dividers and the endpapers employ an intriguing reversal with groups of drawings shown as white silhouettes against a dark background. The use of “dissection” images, the groupings and the lack of environmental background contribute to the gallery effect. After introducing the tree of life and the theory of natural selection, this exhibition begins with invertebrates and continues through fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, pointing out evolutionary developments along the way. Each basic group includes several spreads offering examples from subgroups within the class as well as a spread with a connected habitat: coastal waters, coral reefs, rain forest, deserts, woodlands and tundra. No information sources are given, but there are good suggestions for general websites for further learning.
Overall, this impressive survey will surprise and please its visitors. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-12)