Meet the numbat, fairy armadillo, zorilla, banded linsang, hirola, and a world of lesser-known animals.
Martin takes on his first written and illustrated project in an experimental, factual study of unfamiliar animals that offers a cheekily entertaining collection of fascinating creatures. Each double-page spread features one animal and related data: its size, what it eats, where it lives, a general description of the beast, comparisons to other animals, and, crucially, the animal’s status—ranging from endangered to “least concern,” with a couple who are “data deficient.” Sharing space with the (mostly) realistic depictions of these animals are cartoons, many of them with quips or other remarks young readers will appreciate. Martin creatively offers as thumbnails often humorous illustrations of other animals as comparison, and he depicts their ranges on unlabeled but recognizable maps. The solid background colors vary from blue ocean depths to sandy African and Middle Eastern desert lands. Young readers will chuckle multiple times or simply ask questions; the word “ass” or “asses” is used eight times in the onager entry, and there’s a tidbit about British explorer John Speke, who suffered “the unhelpful setback of dying.” What is perhaps the most important feature is the book’s not-at-all-subtle mission to encourage the protection of status-threatened creatures.
This ambitious nonfiction picture book uncovering extraordinary, rarely spotlighted creatures is both informative and funny—quite a feat. (glossary, key) (Informational picture book. 7-10)