A gallery of animal portraits guaranteed to cause double takes, as they are all made up of painted human hands.
Incorporating nails, knuckles, and skin textures as well as paint, Daniele crafts animal heads of startling realism, from an alpaca and a polar bear that really look furry to a chameleon on which every tiny scale shimmers with nuanced colors. Some, such as the toucan and flamingo, are composed of single hands, but most use more, topping out at the six that are intricately folded together to create a mandarin duck. Several photos are digitally assembled (in more ways than one, in the case of the giant panda, which crouches in a thicket of fingers painted like bamboo), but the artist claims that none of the original paintings are retouched. Opposite each of the 16 close-ups, general descriptions of the animal and, often, its offspring are paired to an actual nature photo that shows off the artist’s attention to detail and color. Lopez adds further facts about the animals at the end, noting that nine are rated “vulnerable” or “endangered.” Daniele concludes with a punchline (“we must give animals a hand if they are to survive”) and a description of his working methods.
A worthy successor to Mario Mariotti and Roberto Marchriori’s Hanimals (1988), with a low-key message about the importance of animal conservation carried in a handful of nature notes. (Informational picture book. 5-9)