A Herd of Elephants & Starfish are Pointy by Graeme Base
Published by Penguin Books Australia
Renowned for his illustrated alphabet book, Animalia, who better to teach young readers about animals than Graeme Base.
'A Herd of Elephants' and 'Starfish Are Pointy' form part of Base's Little Bug Book series and introduce little ones to the world of shapes and collective nouns, as well as focusing on the many different furry (and not so furry) friends that dwell amongst us in the animal kingdom.
In both books, Graeme showcases unique and diverse animals - ranging from the common everyday ladybug to unusual creatures such as starfish and otters. The wide range also familiarises little readers with different animal groups - from deep-sea swimmers to air born flappers; from farmyard ponies to wild elephants.
In contrast to his detailed illustrations, Graeme keeps the text and messages simple, so as not to confuse young readers with too much information. He does this by focusing on the key characteristics of each animal: stingrays are flat, whereas starfish are pointy.
The intriguing fold-out design will keep young readers engaged and also encourage them to actively take part in the story - literally unfolding it so to speak. This adds another element of enjoyment and forces young minds to concentrate and fully absorb the information - as well as making the books truly interactive. Parents can encourage kids to describe the animal - to list multiple features or guess the collective noun, before revealing what's behind the flap.
Undoubtedly, the illustrations are what strike me the most about these books. This is no surprise given Graeme's famed reputation in the illustration department. So detailed, so life-like; the imagery will surely succeed in holding the attention of curious minds. The thick black outline framing each image matches that of the font, thus linking the two and communicating simple messages that little ones can understand and remember. Earlier I mentioned the series' clever design. As readers unfold the page, so too does the image transform to reveal each animal in its environment, and in doing so, creates further meaning through illustration.
Hidden in each book's illustrations is a little bug - hence the name of the series. This is yet another cunning trick on Graeme's part to keep young readers actively engaged in the books; making learning fun for children between the ages of 0 and 4.
Simple, tactile, colourful and detailed to the max, these books are a must for those eager to learn and those keen to teach. Top job Graeme!
CKT Book Reviewer
Author/Illustrator: Graeme Base
Title: A Herd of Elephants & Starfish are Pointy
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
ISBN: 9780670078554 & 9780670078561
Published: March 2015