My first Animalia by Graeme Base

cover image

Puffin, 2013. ISBN 9780670077489.
(Age 3+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Alphabet. Animals. My first Animalia introduces the wonderful world of Animalia to a young audience, complete with a lift the flap, word list and a wonderful 'hidden land of beasts and birds' illustration for each letter of the alphabet.
What I particularly liked about this book is the fact that it can be used on so many levels. A young child just learning the alphabet can trace fingers over a large capital letter and small letter on the left hand side of the book, and then on the right hand can be found four small illustrations that start with the letter and a picture of an animal starting with that letter. For example 'Bb' has a picture of a butterfly and the words 'Beautiful Blue Butterflies'. Lift the flap and a word list to match the small pictures is revealed as well as a fabulous illustration which incorporates more 'b' words that can be searched out by an observant reader. A tantalising phrase, 'Beautiful blue butterflies basking by a babbling brook' can be used by an adult to extend the vocabulary of young children. There is no dumbing down in this book and I can imagine young children delighting in the alliteration of the phrases and the new images that are evoked. Older children will be able to return to the book and extend their vocabularies in fascinating ways.
I love the illustrations that combine beauty and humour. Imagine the mythical lovely unicorn sharing an illustration with an ugly gnome playing a ukulele in his underpants!
This book is a keeper and would be a splendid present for young children just beginning to become interested in letters and words. It is an ideal book for stimulating the imagination and having fun.
Pat Pledger