A First Book of Animals – Nicola Davies and Petr Horacek

This dazzling celebration of the animal world by zoologist and children’s author Nicola Davies is exquisitely illustrated by Petr Horacek. A follow-up title to their award-winning A First Book of Nature, it was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Unusually for an information book the text is written in verse but it’s both lyrical and highly readable and includes so much attention to detail. Petr Horacek’s captivating illustrations are a riot of colour and texture and incredibly atmospheric, many of them depicting animals in their natural setting. 

A First Book of Animals is a great way of introducing younger children to over 50 different varieties of animals, from the very familiar blue whale to the tiniest of creatures, the less well-known bumblebee bat. The selection of animals is refreshing; while featuring some of the more obvious ones found in so many first animal books, more unusual animals such as white storks, sailfish and twinkling fireflies are included here. 

Animal species are introduced according to different criteria: their size, the homes they build, how they look after their babies. Davies’ verse flows smoothly and easily and is packed with keenly observed details and some staggering facts. Who knew there are more than 300,000 kinds of beetle? Did you? A handful of sketchbook-style double-page spreads provide fascinating explanations of animal groupings, defence mechanisms, parasites and the ways in which animals use tools.

This page-turner of a book is a bookshelf staple, ready to be shared again and again with younger children and very suitable for independent browsing by older readers.

Published by Walker Books

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