Sunday, May 12, 2019

Review - Animal Habitats

Animal Habitats
by Sam Hutchinson
illustrated by Sarah Dennis
Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Introduce young nature lovers to the wonders of ecology as they explore the earth's most amazing and unusual regions—colorful coral reefs, frozen polar seas, dense, leafy rain forests, and more—and meet the unique animals that call them home. In a world filled with marvelous creatures great and small, astounding discoveries can be found in Sarah Dennis's enchanting, intricate cut-paper illustrations. Readers learn how food webs sustain incredible birds, beasts, fishes, and insects and the ingenious ways that plants and animals adapt to the varied ecosystems of our diverse planet.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

While I understand what this book is trying to do, I don't think it quite works.

This is a non-fiction title about the food web. Various food chains that are found in different habitats are covered, illustrated with flat-coloured pictures. Each food chain is introduced with depictions of the various producers and consumers, along with a bit of information. Each habitat also poses a question (and the answers are found at the end). Then, the reader is presented with a monochromatic scene that contains all the producers and consumers in that habitat, and tasked with finding them.

On the surface, it seems like a decent premise. But I can't really comment on how well parts of it work because I read a digital ARC of questionable quality, rendering the task of finding the creatures within their pixellated, artifact-riddled habitats next to impossible. I think it might be a bit tricky, anyway, since those scenes are all monochromatic, with zero differences in colours to set off the different animals.

The writing is a bit repetitive. With the exception of the basic information about the habitat and the question, the text is nearly the same. Each page follows the same format. There are also some parts of the writing that are a little clumsy, like when the book states that "plants, flowers, and pine trees thrive on the mountainside". Wait... flowers and pine trees aren't plants?

The basic information presented may be accurate, but the whole search-and-find aspect seems rather unnecessary and perhaps a little age-inappropriate. The book introduces words like "tertiary", "adaptation", "migrate", and "canopy" with no explanation, so presumably it's aimed at readers who are old enough to know those words. Would kids that age really want to do a search-and-find puzzle, or would they just want to get on with reading the book? (I think I probably would've skipped over those particular pages, especially since, once you find the animals the first time, you don't really need to find them again).

I wish I could comment better on the illustrations, but I can't really see them that well. They're supposedly done with cut paper, but all I can really make out are globs of pixels. As for the rest of the book, it's okay... but not necessarily something I'd recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and Princeton Architectural Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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