CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006
Author-illustrator Karen Patkau has won many awards for children's books, beginning in 1986 with the Ezra Jack Keats Memorial Medal for Don't Eat Spiders. Her most recent book, Sir Cassie to the Rescue, brought awards from the Applied Arts Magazine and the Canadian Children's Book Centre.
Each double page painting in Creatures Great and Small focuses on one of the five species, with three-quarters of the illustration devoted to the oversize creature and the remaining one-quarter of the spread to the tiny one. The simple and straightforward text, written in the voice of the creature, manages to avoid the condescending or 'cutesy' tone often found in information books for the young. Patkau's handling of the text on her reptile page exemplifies her skill:
Patkau has done an excellent job of supporting the information she has presented by including a glossary explaining unfamiliar words and concepts, a chart introducing the idea of scale and map endpapers enabling readers to pin-point places around the world where each creature may be found.
Creatures Great and Small is a beautifully designed and illustrated information book guaranteed to intrigue five to eight-year-olds and should make a valuable addition to the biology section of the elementary school library. Librarians spending $22.95 on the volume will appreciate the reversible dust jacket, which provides a splendid poster to whet the interest of young nature-lovers.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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