Jenkins’ talent is highlighting weird, fantastical, and, in this case, dangerous animals.
Each realistic collage illustration is paired with an attention-grabbing headline. More information follows in a 25- to 60-word paragraph, with the name of the animal printed in boldface type. The vocabulary may be challenging for beginning readers, but given the deliciously gruesome subject and clean design, many will persevere. An additional factoid about each animal appears in a callout. Words printed in blue (too dark to stand out the way they should) are defined in a glossary at the back. Readers quickly learn to look for the small graphic on each page that addresses the inevitable question of size, comparing large animals to an adult human man and small creatures to a human hand. A highlighted box on each spread shows the animal’s range on a world map and explains where it lives and what it eats. After all the scary hype, Jenkins brings readers back to reality with a two-page table that clarifies how many people actually die each year from contact with these animals. A bibliography lists 14 titles with copyrights between 1974 and 2013 from various publishers including Jenkins’ own Animal Book. Trickiest! is published simultaneously and follows the same format to introduce 19 sneaky creatures, with backmatter that sorts them by how they confuse their enemies or prey.
A solid informational reader that is not at all deadly. (Informational early reader. 6-10)