The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth
Richly layered, fascinating book kids will enjoy for years.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Animal Book is a beautiful, comprehensive overview of the animal world. It walks readers through basic taxonomy, describes how animal life evolved, and showcases some of the remarkable traits and behaviors animals use to hunt, survive, mate, and raise their young. Some of the ideas are a bit advanced for young readers, who may also be sensitive to details about the more dangerous animals. A two-page spread showcases animals that are especially hazardous to humans, including the mosquito.
What's the story?
THE ANIMAL BOOK is a sweeping compendium of animal life on earth, from the first single-celled organism to the abundant species today. It starts with the basics: what animals are and how they're sorted and classified by different characteristics. From there it's a wild tour of animal behavior: family life, senses, predators and prey, and so on. The final chapter tells the story of life from Earth's beginnings, explaining key concepts in the theory of evolution. An appendix provides still more information on the diet, habitat, and traits of the 300 animals author-illustrator Steve Jenkins presents in the book.
Is it any good?
Absorbing and encyclopedic, The Animal Book is a treasure for the entire family. For the youngest readers, it's an introduction to fundamental ideas in biology, simply explained and illustrated with small snippets of text. Older readers will appreciate the clear graphics and charts at the end of each chapter, which offer context for such concepts as the food web, an ecological pyramid, and life spans. It's the type of book children will rediscover many times over the years.
Some of The Animal Book's vocabulary and concepts are too complex for young kids, but adults will enjoy browsing the book with them. It's studded with jaw-dropping facts: a snail that shoots a venomous barb deadly to humans, an ant that erupts with sticky goo amid attackers, a prehistoric rat that weighed as much as a large bull. Steve Jenkins uses his beautiful torn- and cut-paper artwork to illustrate the book. Some of the material on predators, prey, and dangerous animals may upset sensitive kids.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about the diversity of animal life and how author and illustrator Steve Jenkins sorts and organizes species. Talk about some of the categories he uses, and sort animals you come across in books, at the zoo, or in your own backyard.
Use your imagination to make up a new animal, combining some of the interesting things you learned from The Animal Book. Borrow a defense tactic from one creature, add the predatory skills of another, and so on.
- Jenkins details how he creates his books, from conception to publication, in a special section. Encourage children to follow his outline to create a book of their own -- it could even be a family project.
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
About Our Rating System
The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.