Nonfiction Monday: Animals Up Close
Beautiful photography meets high quality facts to create a nonfiction title that everyone should see. Although not the first to offer close-proximity images (Nic Bishop’s work is a recent example), Animals Up Close does so with a variety of fauna, and at a level few can touch. From centipedes to sea urchins, hermit crabs to chameleons, students will be repulsed, amazed, and thoroughly transfixed by this book.
Animals Up Close first provides some context for the small creatures that are to be presented. Sections on how small animals view the world, how they are classified, and how they were photographed lay the groundwork for the meat of the book. What follows is essentially a role-call of a wide variety of animals including insects, mammals, birds, fish. Each animal gets its own two-page spread containing:
1. An entry describing the animal.
2. A graphic showing name, size, habitat, lifespan, and endangered status.
3. Specific information pointed out in a diagram style.
4. An insanely detailed photograph.
The amount of facts make Animals Up Close suitable for information-seeking students.
This book owes everything to its images. In his forward, Siwanowicz asserts that, “When you get up really close, many of these creatures look like aliens from another planet.” That’s no joke. The photos, especially those of lesser known insects, will challenge the way you look at the animal world. They also might leave readers pleasantly grossed-out. Siwanowicz captures his subjects with sharp clarity and often from unexpected angles. A belly-side shot of a Gecko clinging to glass shows how the lizard’s feet are specially adapted for climbing.
Some creatures are more suited for this sort of inspection. While the up-close treatment of jellyfish and the small tamarin monkey are less awe-inspiring than others, this would have been hard to avoid. With the variety of animals presented, there was bound to be a few that don’t stand out.
Animals Up Close is a wonderful merging of image and information. Fans of Nic Bishop take notice. A highly recommended nonfiction selection.
Check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at MotherReader.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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