________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 34. . . .May 12, 2017


Rare is Everywhere.

Deborah Katz.
Vancouver, BC: Miss Bird Books (Distributed by Sandhill Book Marketing), 2017.
32 pp., hardcover & eBook, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-9958261-0-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-9958261-1-3 (eBook).

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4



Spectacular Spirit Bear

The Great Bear Rainforest is my home
Way up north, I ramble and roam.
I am really a black bear, though my fur is white,
In the middle of the forest, I am quite a sight!

My parents can be white, but they can also be black
We are the same in most ways, except for one fact.
I’m better at catching fish—they don’t see me coming by
Because of my white fur, I blend into the sky.

Legend says I was made white a long time ago
To remind us of the Ice Age, when the world was under snow.
When winter comes, I will sleep in my den
I’ll be catching salmon right until then!


This strikingly illustrated picture book about 10 genetic rarities in the animal kingdom (11 if you count the butterfly in the introductory illustration) carries a thoughtful message for young readers: “to be rare is to be different in a special way.” Through a series of poems explaining each unique attribute (e.g. a spotless cheetah, albino deer, brown panda), the theme emerges that interesting differences which occur throughout nature are something to be celebrated rather than denigrated. As evidenced by the illustration of the girl with different colored eyes, such diversity is also found in humans. The book was inspired by the author’s concern for rare diseases and the way they can create anxiety and isolation, especially in children. Proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Rare Disease Foundation.

     Brief factual notes on back pages supplement the details in the poems to further inform readers about each unique animal, including how many of these individuals might exist worldwide. A Joke Corner on the last page seems at odds with the rest of the content, perhaps serving as a filler. Each poem, presented in a crisp, clear font, highlights the features of the animal that make it stand out within its species. Young readers may be surprised and delighted to discover these anomalies are caused by genes and to understand that these animals are, in most respects, no different to others of their kind. The scientific content is sound, although the presentation as a rhyming children’s book brings its own special challenges. While the rhyme is mostly true, and details in each line contribute to the tale, there are frequent instances of irregular metrical beat. This creates bumpy rhythm which makes the read-aloud experience less than satisfying.

     Vividly colored illustrations that spread beyond the single page will leave a lasting impact. The animals stand in the forefront of natural-looking backgrounds, beside others of their species in more familiar colors or coat patterns. The author/illustrator draws upon her artistic skills, along with an interest in natural history, to create the pictures using a mix of collage and digital design. Rare is Everywhere offers youngsters plenty to learn and food for thought in an attractive format that invites shared reading and discussion.


Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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