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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