The Big Book of Beasts is the second book in Yuval Zommer’s ‘The Big Book of’ series and it is bursting with facts, questions and answers. If you were not curious about animals before reading, then you certainly will be afterwards.
Zommer invites readers to take a look at some of the more ‘beastly’ mammals that roam the Earth. Meet brown bears with sharp teeth, anteaters with impressively strong claws and armadillos with their own body armour. And you might need your ear protectors too as there’s plenty of howling wolves, roaring lions, barking baboons and screeching Tasmanian devils.
In total, Zommer shines the spotlight on nineteen animals which are each presented over a double page. The spreads are beautiful; the colourful wildlife scenes are lush and rich in detail. Each animal is introduced with a question such as ‘Just how lazy is a sloth?’ ‘How did the honey badger get its name?’ ‘Do hyenas really laugh?’ These questions are designed to grab the attention of the reader and they do just that. Several more facts are scattered around the page under their own subheadings. These facts are carefully thought out and are bang-on for the target audience. Children will love learning that hippopotamuses make their own suncream and fling their poo around to mark their territory, that beavers have orange teeth and have see-through eyelids, and that bats use their wings as a blanket when they go to sleep and mummy bats like to hang-out together creating their own mother’s meeting.
There is much more to this book than just getting to meet a few animals though. Before focusing on specific animals there are pages covering the different ‘beastly families’ (primates, rodents, carnivores, etc), the special ‘weapons' that these beasts have to protect themselves, and the sounds and smells that they make. End pages include a delightful spread of beastly footprints, a look at some mightily impressive Ice Age beasts, precious beasts that are in danger of becoming extinct and some beasts that you might spot in your neighbourhood (dependent on where you live).
This feels like a proper grown-up non-fiction book and is published as a large format coffee-table sized book with thick pages that will hold up to endless hours of exploration. Young readers will no doubt love that there is a contents, an index and a glossary that comes in the form of ‘Beastly Words’ so everyone can speak like an expert. A delightful challenge invites readers to find a mystery paw print that features fifteen times throughout the book.
Zommer’s chatty and friendly style, his glorious artwork and the array of information make for a lovely fact-filled introduction to some magnificent mammals. A book like this will surely ignite a passion for animals and a curiosity for the natural world. It is fantastic fun.
Recommended for 5+.