Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey

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Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey

Category: Animals and Wildlife
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Liz Green
Reviewed by Liz Green
Summary: Fascinating and beautifully illustrated introduction to the mysteries of the natural world.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: July 2016
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
ISBN: 9781847807519

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Curiositree is a book that delights in the wonders and mysteries of the living world. It's a book for dipping into, with 67 stand-alone charts that examine subjects as diverse as birds' beaks and feet, the food chain, leaf shapes, eggs, habitat, metamorphosis, classification... There's a list of contents at the front and the book also has a helpful colour coding system, in case you don't know which chart to look at first. Yellow for charts on habitats, orange for species, and blue for special adaptations.

My personal favourites are the adaptations charts which compare a variety of species. For example, Surviving the Seasons discusses hibernation, migration and aestivation and the tactics adopted by creatures ranging from the brown bear to the humble snail. Warning Colours gives interesting examples of the use of colouring and patterning to deter predators. The froghopper bug is patterned red and black to denote its foul taste. The soldier beetle has exactly the same colouring, not because it tastes foul but because it is mimicking the froghopper bug, borrowing its protection, if you like. This, Curiositree tells us, is Mullerian mimicry. Similarly, the hoverfly has developed the yellow and black colouring of the bee, implying to predators that it has a sting. This is Batesian mimicry. And this is what I love about Curiositree. It provides interesting examples, simple but accurate text and a little bit of extra detail (Batesian vs Mullerian, for example) that you might not find in other books aimed at this age range. The result is a book that will appeal to both younger and older children and, most importantly, to adults, especially those who like amassing fascinating facts. Some reptiles, like the Jackson's chameleon, give birth to live young. A blue whale calf is up to 7 metres long. The saguaro cactus can grow to 15 metres in height. The giraffe has the same number of neck bones as a human. Et cetera, et cetera...

On a practical level, this book has been carefully designed. Its detachable cover converts into a wall poster. The text and illustrations are clearly and simply laid out, with original artwork throughout (and how I've enjoyed Owen Davey's illustrations -- a breath of fresh air). Each chart has an arrow indicating another chart on a related subject. The crisp pages are a pleasure to turn. And because this is a book to be dipped into, one chart at a time, the designers have thoughtfully provided not one but three ribbon bookmarks -- perhaps expecting that the book will have multiple readers.

There's so much more I could say but really, you just need to read the book for yourself.

And there are, of course, a couple of criticisms. A persistent misspelling of aquatic was a minor niggle. More importantly, the omission of Domain (above Kingdom) on the classification chart was puzzling, and the explanation for the giraffe's long neck (to allow it to reach high leaves) is under debate in scientific circles (some say there's a sexual selection aspect). Despite these tiny points, the book is exceptional and fully deserving of my first ever award of five stars.

If you're looking for something for younger readers, have a look at Amazing Animal Journeys by Chris Packham and Jason Cockroft. Or for more of Owen Davey's animal artwork, try Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davey.

Booklists.jpg Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey is in the Top Ten Children's Non-Fiction Books of 2016.
Buy Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Curiositree: Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey at Amazon.com.


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