Monday, February 10, 2014

Animal Planet™ Atlas of Animals, by Jinny Johnson

Animal Planet™ Atlas of Animals
Author: Jinny Johnson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing/Millbrook Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
View on Amazon

Source: NetGalley

This is one of those books that every classroom and household with children should have on the shelf. It packs a lot of information into just 132 pages but it is presented so clearly with photos, maps and illustrations that it's easy and fun to read. Of course I'm a sucker for these kinds of books anyway. I love photo reference books for kids, the kind that present vast ideas in a relatively small number of pages using photos and key facts. It's like an entire book made up of those outlined boxes in the margins of textbooks. I loved those. So maybe I'm easy to please with these kinds of books, but even still, this one particularly impressed me.

First of all, arranging the animals geographically is genius. It seems so obvious that I wonder why more books don't do it, but a surprising number do not. It's pretty easy for kids to start thinking of animals as all living together in a zoo, or else only existing in books or videos, so it's great that this book provides some context. There's a section for North American animals, South American animals, Australian animals, etc. And when different animals have adapted to their environments in similar ways, the book often makes those comparisons, as with the mountain life adaptations of "the guanaco and vicuna, and their domesticated relatives llamas and alpacas."

Of course the book is not exhaustive. It's not an encyclopedia. But it does present enough information about the animals of each region that it would be a great starting point for any student interested in learning more. In many cases I think the photography and animal facts will prompt a lot of kids (and more than a few adults) to do further research about the animals and places they find most interesting.

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