Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Creatures Great and Small

Creatures Great and Small

Karen Patkau
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Tundra Books, 2012   ISBN: 978-1770493094

Children are often eager to know “what is the biggest….?” or “what is the smallest…..?” This is especially true when animals are the subject of the discussion. They want to know what is the biggest animal living in the world today, or what is the smallest insect. How big is the biggest bird they ask.

   In this book children will find out the answers to these and many other questions. The author begins by showing us the biggest animal in the world, the blue whale, and one of the smallest, the ant. Children will read that the blue whale is not only huge, but it also makes the largest sound in the animal kingdom. They will also learn that ants, which are very small, are very strong and they inhabit almost every ecosystem on the planet.

   After this opening we look at the biggest and smallest species in the principal animal families. We begin with the insects where we meet the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, an enormous butterfly that lives in jungles, and the tiny Feather-winged Beetle, which crawls under tree bark.

   Next we move onto fish species. The Beluga Sturgeon is the largest fish in the world and it can live for one hundred years. At the other end of the spectrum, the Dwarf Goby is the tiniest fish. These tiny transparent animals live in streams and they are very hard to see.

   Naturally, young readers want to know how big or small the animals mentioned in the book really are. For example, the text tells us that the Anaconda is the biggest snake in the world. How big is it? In the back of the book we find out that the Anaconda can grow to eleven meters, or thirty-six feet, in length. How big is that little beetle we read about on the insects page? It is the size of a tiny dot, about .25 millimeters, or .01 inches, long. We can even see pictures of some of the animals mentioned in the book that show their actual size.

   With an easy to follow text, wonderful digitally created art, and excellent diagrams, this is a book children will enjoy looking at and sharing with others.