Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Amazing Animal Adventure: An Around-the-World Spotting Expedition

The Amazing Animal Adventure: An Around-the-World Spotting Expedition

Anna Claybourne
Illustrator:  Brendan Kearney 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Laurence King Publishing, 2016   ISBN: 978-1780678450

Many of us spend a large amount of our time indoors, and we therefore forget that in the world outside, even if we live in a city, there are animals everywhere. Animals have adapted over time to live in a wide variety of biomes, their bodies changing so that they can survive and flourish in their chosen home. Thus fish have sleek streamlined bodies that allow them to move through water easily, and cheetahs have long legs that allow them to catch fast-moving prey.

In this book we are going to visit twenty-one regions around the world where we will encounter animals of all kinds. For each region we are given a description of the habitat that we are visiting, and we are presented with a fabulous piece of artwork showing the landscape and some of the animals that live there. We are also given a list of animals to find in the artwork, some of which are obvious, but some of which are well hidden.

The first habitat we visit is the Arctic tundra in Greenland. Readers will be surprised to learn that this large island is really not very green at all, as much of the land is covered with a thick layer of ice. The areas that are free of ice are populated by plants and animals that “are brilliant at surviving the cold.”

We then hop to a prairie in North America. It is nighttime and a cross section drawing shows us a town of prairie dogs. Some of the animals are asleep in underground chambers, while others are moving around their burrows. Above ground luna moths, burrowing owls and bobolinks flit around in the night sky.

A few pages on and we are in a very different world, in the Galapagos Islands. Seals, marine iguanas, turtles, a whale shark, a humpback whale, and reef fish swim the ocean waters, while on land blue-footed booby birds dance to attract a mate, land tortoises look for food, and Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttle around. These islands, we are told, were visited my Charles Darwin in 1835 and what he saw there had a profound effect on his understanding of nature.

Out next stop around the world is a truly bizarre place. Deep beneath the Pacific Ocean there are hydrothermal vents and here, thousands of feet beneath the surface, in the dark, creatures can be found in the hot water that bubbles around the vents. Giant tube worms are able to make use of bacteria in their bodies to get food from the mineral-rich water. There are several species here that are found nowhere else, including vent crabs, eelpout fish, and vent octopi.

The other places we will visit are Death Valley, the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, the Namib Desert, an African savanna, the Mountains of the Moon in Africa, a British rock pool, the Russian taiga, a mangrove forest, the high Himalayas, Lake Baikal, the Gobi Desert, Japanese hot springs, the Gomantong Caves in Borneo, the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian outback, and an Antarctic ice shelf.

This is a truly remarkable large-format book, one that children (and adults) will enjoy exploring for hours on end. The scenes are so lush and gorgeous that readers will wish that they could jump into the pages to visit the places represented there.

If you have trouble finding the animals listed on the pages, you can use the answer pages at the back of the book to locate them. Here you will also find information about “Animal World Records,” Habitat world records, diagrams that explain food chains and food webs, information about endangered and extinct animals, and a description of how animals are classified.