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Friday, August 2, 2013

Paul Thurlby's Wildlife, by Paul Thurlby. templar books, Candlewick Press. Random House, 2013. $20.00 ages 2 and up

use their 21-inch-long
tongue to clean
themselves all over -

I only heard about Paul Thurlby when I read reviews of Paul Thurlby's Alphabet. They were glowing, and this year he was named the BolognaRagazzi Opera Prima winner at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Of his book the jury said:

'With Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, the author takes us back to the ABC books that were part of our childhood. First on account of the paper, finely squared, all the letters we read and write carefully framed within their confines. More especially, Thurlby - storyteller, collector and demiurge - invites us into his own alphabet world. He welcomes us into this typographical realm where whale meets owl and space is comfortably enclosed in a trapeze. This phantasmagoric universe is the real stuff of children’s dreams. It explains how, when they first learn the alphabet, children set off on a voyage into its secrets. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes, Thurlby knows that without those tiny squared sheets we risk not seeing life’s traffic lights.'
Having shared that allows me to be less verbose about his new book, as I could never match their thoughtful description. So, I'm just going to tell you how I feel about his new book which takes a close look at wildlife. I love the textural feel of every single page, starting with the endpapers and moving on to the wide-eyed monkey peeling a banana on the title page.

As the book begins, Mr. Thurlby offers an explanatory note:

"If you read closely, you'll see that while the creatures in this book may look a little silly, they are all based on real animal facts."

Now, come the many facts about wildlife that remind me how little I do know, and how much there is to learn in this world. Each inclusion looks like a poster you would love to put on a wall (in fact, the book jacket has one on the flipside). The illustrations fill the pages and leave room at the bottom for a fact about the animal portrayed. I love that the animal name is in bold print, allowing young readers an opportunity to help with the reading. They also have a descriptive caption placed prominently on the page so that we know what their outstanding characteristic is.

Thus, a portrait of the dolphin captioned Keep an EYE out shows said dolphin in bright yellow nightcap swimming in deep blue water beneath a starry sky. The informative description tells us:

"Dolphins sleep with one eye open, while resting one half of their brain at a time."

Wouldn't that be cool?

When you read it again (and you will!), you will take note of the way the author plays with the language he chooses, see more clearly the detailed visual comedy employed and be even more aware of the consistently wonderful design on each spread.

If you are looking for nonfiction books for your young readers that are designed to inform and entertain, look no further. This will be a great addition to your bookshelves!

If you love the prints as much as I do, you might want to check out his website at and get one for yourself.

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