My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola

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My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: A simple education book for children all about animals, enhanced in no small part by some wonderfully colourful illustrations.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 14 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847809674

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Get used to two simple words if you have a child, What's That? You will hear it over and over and over again. If you are lucky they are pointing at something that you actually know – chair, hat, my sense of regret. Sometimes they will point at something that is not too familiar. Here the parental practise of making something up comes into play – it's a bird type thing. Books that show images of items, colours or animals may seem a little dull to an adult, but to a toddler learning about the world they are a who's who of what's that.

Aino-Maija Metsola has created a series of educational books for toddlers that explore a simple topic in Metsola's distinct style. This particular The Learning Garden book is all about My First Animals, but where I come from that is basically dog, cat, pig and cow – not exotic sun bears. Variation is a nice way to keep your child happy as they learn, but is Metsola's style a little too distinctive?

As a basic educational tool Animals does everything right, split into sections it covers ecosystems such as the sea, the savanna, the farm. Each area has ten or so animals representing it so you are getting well over 50 first animals in this book alone, which makes it more like a child's first, second and third animal book. Each double spread also poses a simple question that gets your child thinking. Can they see which the tallest animal is or who lives in a tree?

It is not the basic structure that makes this particular animal book stand out from any other, but Metsola's distinct art style. Her use of bold colours means that the book is very attractive to look at. She is helped in turn by the design of the book itself; a smaller hardback style that makes it easy to hold and read for a toddler. The problems occur as some of the animals are a little too unique and can confuse the very young. On a couple of occasions an animal that would normally be identified easily, poses more of a puzzle. It is almost as if a toddler will need to add to their lexicon of what a fish looks like to know that Metsola's image is the same as the others they have seen.

Challenging a toddler with different interpretations of what an animal can look like is not inherently a bad thing as it will aid them in developing context – this is a cat, but that is also a cat. However, perhaps claiming the book is a child's first animal book is a little disingenuous. It would make a brilliant second animal book, but you may want to stick to something even simpler than this to begin with. If you do wait, you will be rewarded with a lovely looking book that is enhanced greatly by Metsola's art.

There are some wonderful children's books available that have artistic portrayals of animals An Animal ABC by Alice Pattullo is one.

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Buy My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola at


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