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Actual Size (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) Hardcover – May 25, 2004

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Actual Size (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) + What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? (Caldecott Honor Book) + Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World
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Editorial Reviews Review

Steve Jenkins (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This ?) returns with another inventive, involving picture book--this time inviting young readers to see how they measure up against a variety of different animals (represented in colorful, cut-paper collages at actual size).

Each spread of Actual Size presents a new animal or two for readers to check out, along with a few interesting facts and physical dimensions. Some of the colorful collages display the entire animal at actual scale (like the fleshy, 36-inch length of a giant Gippsland earthworm)while others can only feature what fits on the page (an African elephant's foot, a Siberian tiger's face, or even just a gaping maw sporting a few four-inch-long teeth of a great white shark). Two fun fold-outs show a Goliath frog ("It's big enough to catch and eat birds and rats") and the long, toothy smile of a saltwater crocodile ("the world's largest reptile... a man-eater").

Jenkins' collages capture the texture and color of these cut-out creatures, and the thoughtful inclusion of an illustrated index shows each animal in its scaled-down entirety, accompanied by longer, fact-filled descriptions. While younger kids might not appreciate the subtlety of the book's clever "actual-size" trope, readers young and old will love all the close-up views and learn a few things along the way. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 5–In striking torn-and-cut paper collages, Jenkins depicts 18 animals and insects–or a part of their body–in actual size. One illustration compares an atlas moth with a 12-inch wingspan to a dwarf goby fish, which is 1/3-inch long. The eye of a giant squid, at a foot across, occupies a spread to terrific effect; only the snout and tongue–curling its two-foot length across two pages and littered with termites–are visible in the picture of the giant anteater. The hand of a gorilla fills a page opposite the entire pygmy mouse lemur with its tiny human-fingertip-sized palm. The saltwater crocodile grows to 23 feet, so tremendous that its head occupies a three-page foldout. On the reverse side is the rat-eating Goliath frog, a staggering 36 inches long in full hop. One or two lines of text briefly introduce each animal and give specific measurements, e.g., the gorilla stands 5 ½ feet tall and weighs 600 pounds, while the mouse lemur is 2 ½ inches tall and weighs 1 ounce. The end matter offers full pictures of the creatures and more details about their habitats and habits. Mixing deceptive simplicity with absolute clarity, this beautiful book is an enticing way to introduce children to the glorious diversity of our natural world, or to illustrate to budding scientists the importance of comparison, measurement, observation, and record keeping. A thoroughly engaging read-aloud and a must-have for any collection.–Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 1080L (What's this?)
  • Series: Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 34 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618375945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618375943
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.3 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Jenkins has written and illustrated thirty picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott Honor-winning What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? His books have been called stunning, eyepopping, inventive, gorgeous, masterful, extraordinary, playful, irresistible, compelling, engaging, accessible, glorious, and informative. He lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent collaborator, Robin Page, and their children. To learn more about Steve and his books, visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Just this past week I did a welcome-to-the-library introductory class for roughly fifteen hepped-up first graders. This was the first time I'd done such a class, so I was a little nervous about how to reach 'em. The last thing I wanted was to bomb in front of them. I needed a picture book that would really capture their attention. That would make them sit up and take notice. That would let them believe that the library is a cool and happening place full of wonderful fascinating books. So to what book did I turn in my moment of trial? Why to Steve Jenkins' fabulous, "Actual Size", of course. This has suddenly become my sure-fire go-to book. No child that encounters this puppy walks away without falling deeply in love with it. All that and it's chock full of useful scientific facts too.

The premise of "Actual Size" is canny. Using his customary illustration techniques of utilizing cut and torn paper, author/illustrator Steve Jenkins has created a book full of different kinds of animals. But unlike your average book that, say, summarizes the wingspan of the atlas moth, each illustration in this story is actual size. Which is to say, if the pygmy shrew is only two inches long, then the illustration of that shrew in this book will also be two inches long. This makes for some highly original displays. There's no way you could fit the entire giant squid into the book's pages. Therefore, one two-page spread is devoted entirely to the giant squid's eye (12 inches across and freaky freaky freaky). Other pages display an anteater's two-foot-long tongue (twisted about to fit in the necessary illustration). We get an up close and personal view of the four-inch jagged teeth of the great white shark.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Looking through this oversized (about 10.25 by 12.25 inches on the outside) picture book is an eye-popping, dazzling experience. Steve Jenkins shows a variety of animals and animal body parts at their actual size. This alone is a great idea for a children's book, but Jenkins takes it further. Like a movie director, Jenkins varies his "shots" for maximal effect, moving, for example, from am entire pygmy mouse on one page, to much a Siberian tiger's face on the following two-page spread. It's not only a visual contrast, but an emotional one too; the mouse looks out innocently at the reader, while the tiger does what tigers sometimes do: Growl! You can feel--and then measure--the intense 1-½ inch eyes, and the two 2 ¼ inch fangs.

Although most of the pictures take up two pages, Jenkins varies the animals, as well as how "close" they appear to the reader: HE begins with the largest butterfly (with a 12 inch wingspan), then contrasts this with a close-up of the eye of a giant squid. The WOW fact is just as big. In fact, it's so riveting that you might not see the smallish fish (the goby, 1/3 of an inch long) just opposite the butterfly. Termites are dwarfed by the two-foot tongue of their predator, the giant anteater. The picture consists of a 15-inch snout and a two-foot pink tongue, covered with four small termites. Here's a good question to ask your readers: How do you draw a two-foot tongue on a two-page spread that measures not quite 20 inches long? By making it curl around. The book is full of such opportunities for wide-eyed talk. A foot long spider (the "giant birdeater tarantula," with 12 inch legs, and a fantastic name) is followed by a three-page foldout of a crocodile. " What do they eat? People, among other things.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Maatka on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book has artwork depicting the actual size of abnormally large and abnormally small animals. You get to get up close and personal with a 3/4-inch fish and the 12 inch eye of the giant squid (which can grow up to 50+ feet long!!) and everything in the book is depicted actual size. We used this book for a storytime and the young kids LOVED comparing their hands against the critters in the book. Best of all, one of my co-workers literally jumped about six feet from a seated position just from glancing at the picture of the 12-inch in diameter spider. The book is worth just that alone!! Highly recommended for kids to understand the scale of nature.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Roman VINE VOICE on July 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Steve Jenkins' Actual Size can be enjoyed as a work of art. The animals or, if a large animal, part of an animal is illustrated using handmade paper collage. What may sound like just a clever concept, when skillfully executed, resulted in an awesome book. Some of the animals shown are the pigmy shrew, atlas moth, dwarf goby, Goliath frog, and giant squid. The dimensions of the animal is noted and as well as a paragraph about such things as habitat and diet which makes this a very interesting book. Karen Woodworth-Roman, Children's Science Book Review
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cady Hayden on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Between the paper-cut collage, the huge pages, the factual information done in a fun way and just the overall style of the book makes this one of my favorites I've reviewed so far. Children and adults will love to measure themselves up to the 3 foot giant gippsland earthworm and find out that the giant squid's eyeball is bigger than their head. There is even an open out middle page of the world's largest frog and a crocodile that can chew your arm off in one bite. Steve Jenkins, author and illustrator, did an amazing job with this book and I believe it is enjoyable for all ages.
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Actual Size (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards))
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