Incredible Animals: Eye-opening Photos of Animals in Action
Play Bac Publishing, $12.95
96 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-1602140592
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
I think most kids go through an animal phase — loving everything about them and wanting to know as much as they can. Incredible Animals is a book of photography that should satisfy just about any young animal aficionado, with dramatic images of animals that are surprising, endearing, humorous, and sometimes frightening.
The set up of the book is really basic. Each two-page spread is dominated by the full-color, usually up-close photograph. The sliver of text in the margin spotlights an interesting fact and then goes on to explain in further detail in a short following paragraph. The text is well-written and simple, and the facts presented are informative and engaging for young readers.
What’s best about Incredible Animals is the unusual intimacy of the photographs. It’s easy to feel like you’re getting a real insider’s look at how animals really live. The majority of these are not your typical animal shots. For example, in other books, giraffes are often seen sedately standing around or extending their long, graceful necks to select the choicest tree leaves for eating; in this book, one giraffe clotheslines another with a good hind leg kick to the neck. Turns out the male giraffes will fight hard to see who’s going to be the dominant male in the group. Another photo captures the image of a chameleon the instant it snatches its prey with that long, sticky tongue, visual proof of the fact that a chameleon’s tongue is as long as its body. And it’s a stunning photo in which a mother bear disciplines her cub by yelling at it; the body language of the mother quite aggressive compared with the extremely docile-looking baby bear, who stands there with arms at its side. From a head-on image of a penguin propelling itself out of the water onto land to a polar bear relaxing against a makeshift pillow of snow, from a colony of sleeping ladybugs to a photo that demonstrates just how tiny the Costa Rican strawberry poison dart frog is, this dynamic collection of photographs includes animals in their natural habitats from around the world.
It’s important to note that some of the photos in this book might be troubling to some young readers, for example, the exact moment before a lioness pounces on an antelope. Or that scene with one giraffe kicking another. So it’s a good idea to maybe flip through the book before sharing it with your child, especially if he or she is sensitive to that kind of thing. They’re certainly not all threatening photos though. There’s enough cuteness in a swimming hedgehog, a "dancing" sifaka lemur, or a baby boar piglet getting a kiss from mom to leave young readers with an overall impression that’s firmly positive.