The Animal Kingdom is a diverse one, full of creatures that do all sorts of things. The number of animals out there is so vast that even vets need to do a quick google when something strange appears in their practice. For the budding vet-to-be, animals are a constant source of fascination and they will absorb as much knowledge as you can give them. It is not practical to visit the zoo every day, but getting an educational and entertaining animal encylopedia is.
‘‘My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals’’ is part of DK’s ‘‘Very Important’’ series that takes an encyclopaedic look at a given subject area. Whilst the original book made a valiant attempt at trying to cover almost everything in one book, DK have sensibly focused on one area here – animals. This is a large enough subject to cover on its own and DK have tackled it by focusing not just on animal types, but also traits. The book is split into three parts; basic questions about animals, a deeper look at certain types and a section exploring some interesting animal antics.
As with all encyclopedias for children, there is a balance to be struck between educating the reader and making the book interesting enough to capture the imagination. For an older reader ‘VIA’ may seem at first to be a little too in your face. It is certainly a fun book to look at. The hardback version is full of quality full colour photos that makes almost every page an assault on the senses. If the visuals were the only thing with the book, it would have failed at being an encyclopedia. Thankfully, DK have plenty of experience in this area.
Alongside the wonderful imagery are some solid facts for kids. Whilst the likes of ‘‘Ripley’s’’ and ‘‘Guinness’’ are more about fun and not fact, ‘‘VIA’ ensures that the information is not lost. The layouts of the pages differ, but most will have images of a few animals and the rest of the page will be dotted with factoids. These are bitesize chunks of information that is palatable for the 4-8 year old market. Extra credit should be given by DK’s commitment to helping with reading. Certain words will be highlighted that show they are important. For the younger reader this may prompt some questions to an adult about what it means.
The entire book is well designed to be inviting for a child interested in information and animals; from the colours to the layout. Like with all encyclopedias there are gaps in what information is available, but the subject of animals is covered in enough detail here to sate the appetite of most pre-teens who are going to read the book. Original review on thebookbag.co.uk