Lynn: Most children love animal books and with Life-Sized Zoo (Seven Footer Kids, 2009) you can bring a zoo right into your lap. Komiya gives readers extraordinary photographs that are truly up close and personal. Subjects range from an elephants’ eye to an unnervingly close view of a tiger’s tongue – all life-size and all fascinating. A three section side bar on each double page spread provides Facts about each species, information about the individual animal pictured and Time for Close-up which directs readers to look for specific features in the photo. The Facts section is illustrated with cartoon drawings and is definitely child-centered, providing information on such things as where a capybara poops or how sloths sleep.
Our focus group happily poured over this book for a week and were not happy when I had to take it to Cindy. They loved reading all the facts and looking closely at the pictures. They turned again and again to the large fold outs but their favorite pages showed a hedgehog and an armadillo in two poses, walking and rolled up like a puzzle ball. The other feature they loved (be still my heart!) was the imaginative table of contents. Graphically displayed like a zoo, each animal “cage” included page numbers. The boys liked “walking” through the zoo and turning back to the page numbers listed as they came to each animal. What a great way to teach this concept! I know, I know, only a librarian would be geeked about this but I thought it was cool.
Cindy: I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this book since we walked away from an ALA booth in Chicago with a poster of the giraffe spread. It’s hard to pick a favorite animal feature. Just when I think for sure it would be one of the fold out closeups of the rhinoceros or something, then I’d come across the picture of the rolled 3-banded armadillo with my fav animal, the hedgehog, and I realized there’s no way to pick a favorite page in this book. The close up photography really encourages observation and reinforces the diversity of creatures. My small niggling complaint is that the facts in the cartoon panels are sometimes unclear–but the website for the book has two links for each animal, one aimed at primary and the other for older readers. The links are to noted animal websites like National Geographic, or famous zoos. A sample page from the book is shown below, courtesy of the same Seven Footer Kids website listed above, but it’s not the same as looking at the double page spread in the 10 1/2 x 14 1/2″ book. You need to see it to believe it.