Almost an Animal Alphabet

Katie Viggers. powerHouse/POW! (Random, dist.), $19.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-57687-643-5
Self-published in the author's native Great Britain in 2010, this A to Z bestiary enchants with expressive, painterly monoprints that either retain their charcoal-like quality or are digitally colorized. The visual diversity extends to the level of realism on each spread: a male-female pair of quails is encyclopedia-ready, while a hammerhead shark wears a tool belt. Viggers depicts several animals solo—e.g. the gorilla, koala, and tarsier—in arch, close-up portraits that convey a rich sense of each creature's personality. Subtle humor and informative tidbits animate the text: B stands not just for bears, but for all eight species of them, from sun to panda (the latter munches on alphabetically convenient bamboo). Seven types of penguins are identified by name and form a courtly tableau, with the Fjordland penguin shading the king penguin with a parasol, while an Adélie solicits an autograph and the Galapagos snaps a paparazzo photo. So, why the "almost" of the title? It might have something to do with those "nighttime," "underground," and "yeti" spreads, each of which is integrated seamlessly. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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