A review by Nalini Haynes
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals is a nonfiction book about (surprise!) dangerous animals. Every double-page layout focuses on one animal. Of the double-page layout, one page features a gorgeous illustration of the animal while the other fact-filled page has a line drawing of some detail and a silhouette image contrasting the animal’s size with a human.
Facts are broken into sections: description, danger factor, conservation status, diet, location/habitat and fun facts.
Conservation status varies depending on the animal. Bayly lists some as “Not evaluated”, which often seems to relate to their “danger factor”. However, this section may also include essential information to challenge assumptions. For example, Bayly says the Yellow Fever Mosquito is deemed a “globally invasive species” with efforts to eradicate it although mosquitoes play essential roles in our environment including pollinating plants.
Bayly makes disconcerting choices with some of her illustrations. For example, the vampire bat (top left illustration on the cover), looks like a cross between an insect and a rat. It does not appear to have wings. I assume its front “legs” are wings. I’m disappointed. I turned to this page specifically to see her illustration of the wings, one of bat species’ most interesting features. Also, Bayly says the wolverine has distinctive markings on its chest but her illustration focuses on the head. We can’t see the distinctive markings she mentions.
Opening the parcel to reveal this book, I discovered a hardcover book with a cloth-bound spine, illustrated front cover and metallic embossed text. The end papers feature line drawings of dangerous animals. Featured images are gorgeous and detailed, often with a focus on teeth. The layout is consistent and elegant, conveying a wealth of information. Information has a conservation focus in a double-page spread for every dangerous animal.
Bayly features interesting animals from around the world, including the Boomslang. (Anyone need a boomslang skin for a potion?)
My brothers would have LOVED this book when they were kids and it would have factored in to some of their games as well as their schoolwork.
I highly recommend The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals for children, for those interested in the topic, for those passionate about conservation and, most of all, for those who love illustrations of animals. I am sure some people would love to purchase prints of the artwork to hang on their walls!
Fun fact: Blue Dragons might save us from Portugese Men O’War. And they’re O SO PRETTY.
If you enjoy this book, you may enjoy Ocean Atlas.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9780734420015 (also available as an ebook)
Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books (Hachette Australia)
Format: hardcover, 128 pages
Category: nonfiction, children, teenage