Thursday, April 7, 2016

Book Review: The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Sӓfstrӧm

While I don’t regularly read children’s books, every now and then I have to let out the inner child.

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts includes a splendid array of animals from barnyard to ocean to the wild. Sӓfstrӧm chose her subjects simply because they happen to be personal favorites, so the collection has no particular order. It lends the book a quirky charm when you find sea horses next to pandas. Sӓfstrӧm is also the illustrator. The print is handwritten and not typed, but easy to read. The minimalist black and white drawings are both whimsical and sweet.  The simple lines are clean and fresh and clearly display a Scandinavian minimalist approach (The author is from Stockholm.)

Each illustration accompanies several fun facts. For instance, if a snail doesn’t like the weather it can go into its shell and hibernate for up to three years. (Big deal. So can I) Many of her animal choices are obvious favorites for other people as well. Who doesn’t love a cute, cuddly koala or a regal tiger? I do take issue with the cockroaches though. In my mind the only good one is a dead one. I didn’t need to know that they can live for days with their heads cut off, but kids generally appreciate an icky yuck factor.

I suggest the book for an approximate age range of 4-8 years. The younger ones will enjoy having it read to them, while older ones will manage nicely on their own.  I was also pleased with the construction. The book is a sturdy hardcover . The pages have a good weight and a nice feel to the paper. They’re sure to withstand repetitive use by many little hands. The Illustrated Compendium will be a practical addition to any child’s library and can easily be being passed from older siblings to younger and still maintain its shape.  This makes it suitable for a public or school library, as well. A warning to parents: if you want the book kept close to its original condition, hide the crayons. Certain children will find the line drawings irresistible and be tempted to add a dash of color to the black and white. Not that I’ve ever done something like that in my misspent youth.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

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