With scattered exceptions, the trendy “infographics” approach stops at the title in this haphazard ramble past animal types and extremes.
The book is printed on stiff stock and features edge tabs bearing icons to denote each section’s subject—not always well-chosen ones: Dog faces mark both the chapter on dogs and one on animal senses in general. The coverage begins with Darwin and ends abruptly (sans index or other backmatter) with a highly select gallery of canine breeds. In between, it offers equally select surveys of animal habitats, physical characteristics, family life, defense mechanisms and other topics. The writing sometimes reads like a bad translation: “A hippo can extend its mouth to 180 degrees.” The snippets of text are placed around or within intensely hued images that are mostly solid, stylized animal silhouettes, but unlike the ingeniously designed graphics in Margaret Hynes and Andy Crisp’s Picture This! Animals (2014), here the art is seldom arranged or scaled to impart information in a visual way. Aside from, for instance, a toothbrush “graph” comparing the numbers of various creatures’ teeth or silhouettes running around a marked speed gauge, Blechman’s illustrations just place animals in decorative groupings or next to conventional lists and bar graphs.
Flashy at first glance, routine at second and subsequent looks. (Nonfiction. 11-13)