Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

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Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald
Reviewed by Lorraine McDonald
Summary: With eighteen life size drawings, some ingenious ways to fit huge creatures in to the book and some intriguing animal facts, 'Actual Size' is a jumbo treat. A good alternative to a trip the zoo. Highly recommended
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 36 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847805942

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There’s an enormous disembodied eye staring at me. At 30cm it’s as big as a dinner plate and it’s in my living room. Which is no bad thing because if I met it in the sea then I’d really be in trouble. Fortunately the eye is contained on page four of the intriguing and really rather splendid, book 'Actual Size'.

The concept behind 'Actual Size' is, like most of the best ideas, simple. There are eighteen illustrations of animals, insects and birds drawn life size. This book is no lightweight, but even with dimensions of 26 by 30cm, it is still an impossible task to contain an elephant, an alligator, an ostrich and a tiger on the page. A triple page pull out helps with the alligator. The other big beasts are illustrated in part – a tiger head, an elephant foot, a gorilla hand. Little fellas like the tiny guppy fish and the small-as-your-finger pygmy lemur feature in full. The drawings are lovely to look at as well as informative. They are realistic enough to give an impression of what the creature is like yet still be soft and attractive.

'Actual Size' not only brings the world of animals to life, it brings them in to your living room. Seeing animals live in the zoo is appealing but you don’t ordinarily get to place a Goliath tarantula next to your cat or your telly to get a sense of scale. Facts and dimensions are provided for each creature. I decided the bear head was way too small until it was held at bear height across the room from me at which point it seemed rather alarming. I returned the favour by standing on a chair to position an ostrich head somewhere near the ceiling. I’m not sure the pecking action was realistic or necessary but we had some fun exploring relative dimensions.

I was pretty sure right from the get go that this was a winner but as toddler and me roared, grunted and snapped our way through the book I did try to be critical. What a shame, I thought, not to have a full illustration of each animal too big to fit on. I was mistaken. At the end there are two double page spreads showing all of the animals complete with more information for adults or older readers. I’m fishing around here for the sake of a balanced review but the worst thing I can find to say is that we were left wanting more.

'Actual size’ is a strong concept well executed. It’s a fun picture book for the very young, a source of knowledge for older readers learning about size and an intriguing read for all. Oh yes, and the owner of that eye is a giant squid, with a body measuring in at over 18 metres.

If you can’t get hold of this or one of Steve Jenkins' other titles, get your animal fix with Mad About Mega Beasts! by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz (Illustrator).

Booklists.jpg Actual Size by Steve Jenkins is in the Top Ten Picture Books 2015.

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Buy Actual Size by Steve Jenkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Actual Size by Steve Jenkins at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Actual Size by Steve Jenkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Actual Size by Steve Jenkins at


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