June 24, 2009


We went to the zoo today! We purchased a membership this past winter so I could take the girls whenever the fancy struck us. Little Page had a doctor's appointment this morning and since we had to pass the zoo on the way home, I turned in to surprise her with a little visit. We practically had the place to ourselves and got to watch the warthogs eat and bongos drink and even heard the lion roar.

All this zoological fun put me in the mood to read Animalia by Graeme Base.
Within the pages of this book
You may discover, if you look
Beyond the spell of written words
A hidden land of beasts and birds.

For many things are 'of a kind',
And those with keenest eyes will find
A thousand things, or maybe more -
It's up to you to keep the score.
These are the first lines of this amazingly illustrated alphabet book. Each page contains an alliterated description of an animal along with a humorous illustration. For example, W is "wicked warrior wasps wildly waving warlike weapons." The picture is of several wasps in armor carrying swords, shields, etc. In the background is a quiet country scene.

Look closer, however, and you begin to notice a theme to the elements Base added to the background. There's a whale in the water; a wizard walking towards a well; a witch waving; a wolf wagging, a whipping wagon going past a field of wheat; a weeping willow over a waterfall... and on and on. Each illustration contains dozens if not hundreds of characters that begin with the featured letter. Also hidden in each picture is a tiny figure of a tow-headed boy. It's like Where's Waldo on steroids.

Little Page received this book as a first birthday present, but I would recommend it for the school-aged crowd. Still, it's a great one to add to your library at any age.

(Another Graeme Base book you might want to check out is The Watering Hole. This counting book about animals from around the world drinking out of a quickly-shrinking water hole is illustrated like a "find the hidden picture" series, with animals hidden in the foliage, sky, and water. Little Page enjoyed counting up while the water hole - in this case an actual hole in the page - shrunk.)

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