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