Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins and Alice Letherland
|Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins and Alice Letherland|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: One of the world's smallest 'atlases' – and that's the point.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: October 2016|
|Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions|
|External links: Author's website|
I've hardly ever had a trouser pocket big enough to cram a whole 'pocket-sized' book in, and while the book under concern here won't comply either, it's not far off. But it's an atlas – you know, one of those books that are usually clunky and huge, fitting awkwardly on the bottom shelf and taken out whenever some project or quirk of trivial life inspires a browse. But this is a special kind of atlas – it's a compendium of details, and very small details at that, of all the tiny things on our large planet.
Starting close to home we have a miniature village in Buckinghamshire, then a selection of minuscule dioramas in France, and a place in Holland that is the whole country encapsulated in pint-size form. That and other areas count for some of the largest conglomerations of model railway networks (one place full of them in the US has so much background scenery that they could have built forty whole human houses out of the same material). But it's not all teeny-tiny man-made tourist traps, here – once we go through the art of bonsai growing we hit the world's smallest wildlife – tiddly butterflies, wee little primates (that do just that to mark their territory with their urine-soaked front paws) and so on.
The different continents – even that hotbed of superlatives, Antarctica – all get a double-paged spread with several instances of the minute, then we have just a selection of those in double-paged detail. You could call it a shame these pages are so small – and boy, some of the font isn't that great for those with problems in that regard – for they're quite pleasantly pictorial. And once you've perused the petite, there is a gazetteer of the granular, for you to go back and pick out details of the artworks you might have missed.
All in all, this book has something pleasingly quirky about itself – it's certainly the only one I have reviewed to concentrate on such a subject for the young audience. It has a wide-ranging scope, and even hits on paradoxes, like a giant doll's house. But I did find it missed out here and there on both entertainment and educational value. The designs for every subject, as aesthetically pleasing as they are, did not diversify enough, and a fuller Where's Wally? approach could have made sure they held the attention more. Further, a page (even, yes, a small one) might have been included to convey the scientific reasons for the different scales the planet's schemes work on. There's no mention of the evolutionary benefits of being the world's smallest frog, or the weeniest hummingbird, and little of the engineering craft needed to make a model village, especially one where the populous gets reclothed according to the seasons. This lack of background made the book feel a little light and plain, to me, although I can see why the pages are only embellished with at most five small captions each time. Dare I say it, that as cute as this book can be, its appeal could have been a smidge bigger?
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The artist has given us one of those larger atlases too, for the same series. Elsewhere, Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown is a great read – although here 'lesser' is not necessarily 'lesser' as in 'smaller', but more just 'over-looked'.
You can read more book reviews or buy Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins and Alice Letherland at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins and Alice Letherland at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.