One Gorilla: A Counting Book

Anthony Browne, Author
Anthony Browne. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6352-0
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 02/12/2013
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Former U.K. Children’s Laureate Browne has always been interested in primates, as books like Gorilla and his Willy the Chimp series have made clear. Now, the static nature of a counting book allows him to devote maximum attention to each animal, from a single gorilla to 10 lemurs. Each arresting portrait fills a full spread against a backdrop of white. Larger, rarer primates appear first, progressing to smaller, more numerous species like macaques and colobus monkeys. The key to the book’s impact lies in the dignity of a portrait sitting that Browne confers on creatures more commonly seen behind glass walls. Every face has a discernible personality. Even the lemurs are distinct individuals, with variations in snouts, eyes, and ears. Browne follows the series with a meticulously painted closeup of another primate—himself—and then a group portrait of humans of many ages and ethnicities. “All primates. All one family. All my family,” he writes, “and yours!” Browne’s work exemplifies the way close observation of animals leads, for both artist and viewer, to deepened respect—and, as he hopes, to a sense of kinship. Ages 3–up. (Feb.)
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