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Animalia Hardcover – September 15, 1987

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Editorial Reviews Review

What's this elaborate illustration? "Horrible Hairy Hogs Hurrying Homewards on Heavily Harnessed Horses," of course. Graeme Base's astonishingly creative oeuvre begins with Animalia, the 1993 alphabet book that challenges the standard idea of how long reading a book for small kids ought to take. Animalia, like many of Base's books, is a vast puzzle, built with entrancing pictures that unfold into layers and layers of objects--all matched to each page's corresponding letter. Base leaves us stunned and amazed, painting reflections into the oddest surfaces and driving the urge to page-turn. This wonderful picture book works for 2-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and adults alike--something few other alphabet books can manage. --Andrew Bartlett --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Base has created an ABC book that goes far beyond a simple listing of items in alphabetical order. There are captions or headlines accompanying each letter's scene, such as "Eight Enormous Elephants Expertly Eating Easter Eggs," or "Two Tigers Taking the 10:20 Train to Timbuktu." Each picture is replete with an apparently random choice of objects that have in common (on every page but the one for the letter X) their first letters. This Australian import makes for a delightful visual feast, though it lacks a clear conceptual coherence or unity of action or meaning on every page. No matterreaders will have a fine time guessing at objects and searching for a small child who hides among the pages; and the meticulous artistry is far-reaching in its innovation, detail and humor. Base's monumental effort will not go unrewarded; if books could be honored for the sheer number of hours readers could pore over crammed pages, and for the inexhaustible supply of extra touches, this one surely would be a winner. All ages.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; New edition edition (September 15, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810918684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810918689
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.5 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,197,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graeme Base is one of the world's leading creators of picture books. His alphabet book, Animalia, received international acclaim when it was first published in 1986 and has sold more than two million copies. Graeme lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Callie on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Animalia" is an illustrated book that brings you into a magical fantasy land full of animals. It features brilliant pictures of cats, birds, mice, unicorns and all sorts of animals. Each creature acts out interesting activities with gorgeous backgrounds. I am now sixteen, but I remember when the book recently came out, some six or seven years ago and I was amazed by the many sights of this book. Every page has "tongue twisters" for the letters of the alphebet, such as "Crafty Crimson Cats Carefully Catchting Crusty Crayfish" and "Lazy Lions Lounging In The Local Library". The pages also have pictures of many things that start with the letters. The lions look at books titled "Lassie Come Home", "Let's Learn Latin", and "Life In Louxembourg". The cats where charms and sit next to a pond, surrounded by a grand horizan where in the background you see castles and churches. Myself and my brother and sister loved looking for all of the things that started with C. We were also very amazed by the mesmorizing images. These illustrations look very lifelike, in fact, they look very much like the wonderful scenes children see in dreams. Reading this book with your kids is like walking through a great fantasy adventure in an animal world. It also serves as an excellent method to teach the alphebet to children. You will always enjoy reading this book with your kids and your kids will also enjoy reading and looking at the book by themselves.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Emily Dalton-Bryner on June 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book in a thrift store and was instantly mesmerized. The art is of the absolute highest caliber. Base is beyond gifted. These paintings are an ideal merger of realism and fantasy with lush, highly saturated color and deep, contrasty depth. I imagine this book could inspire any kid with a creative bent a great deal more than several trips to an art museum. I've bought copies to give to fellow artist/philosopher friends whether or not they've got kids. (We don't as yet, but we're working on it, and have beloved nieces and a nephew).

Now let me say this: I am glad I found this in a store rather than on Amazon. Given the reviews, I probably would have been wary of it, and skipped it. I don't approve of saturating toddlers minds with violence and certainly not black magic! But I'm not at all opposed to gentle fantasy. To me, this stuff is really sweet. It's not cutesy, but even the monsters look friendly and villains rather un-scary. Bombastic and over-the-top? Yes. Scary? No.

The dragons on the "D" page are eating "delicacies" -- dates and donuts, to be exact. There's not a flame in sight, their talons are nowhere near any people or animals, and they are smiling. It's a bright, sunny page with a blue sky (as in Daytime).

The little tiny monochromatic Frankenstein on the F page is also smiling and looking rather silly if you can even detect him in the foliage. On this same page, there is a Christian fish. (And on the A page, there's an angel, and a church or cathedral on the C page; on the H page there's a hymnal, along with a nun on the N page).

The infamous K page has the distinct look of a 1930's pulp fiction crime novel cover, right down to the art deco display typeface. There's even a carful of comical British police waving nightsticks.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Harbick on April 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this for my son, but it turns out I enjoy it far more than him ;) The back of the book says something like "any child that doesn't soon own this should rightfully feel that their education has been shamefully neglected." An apt description! Every page is PACKED with detail. Each page represents a letter of the alphabet, and everything on that page starts with the letter. There are things hidden in shadows, and things that are in plain view. You'll get stuck if you open this book. So plan some time to use it, bring your observation hat and thesaurus, and have a blast.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Priscilla Stafford on October 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I remember distinctly the day on which I received this book as a present, along with another Graeme Base book "The Eleventh Hour". Being young, I was immediately fascinated by just looking at the front cover of "Animalia". And who wouldn't be fascinated with the beautiful artwork blossoming with abounding color? And I must say I just fell in love with the book!
"Within the pages of this book
You may discover, if you look
Beyond the spell of written words,
A hidden land of beasts and birds.
For many things are 'of a kind',
And those with keenest eyes will find
A thousand things, or maybe more -
It's up to your to keep the score.
Just by reading this poem (found in the very beginning of the book, the first two stanzas) you can tell what the book contains. "Animalia" is a picture book of A-Z, showing animals from Alligators to Zebras. And not your average alphabet book this is, each picture contains quite a number of things starting from the letter of each alphabet. And you also get quite a tongue twister for every letter. For example, I would never have imagined making a good tongue twister with the letter 'X' but Graeme uses a very unique technique (nice choice of words, huh?) to make an 'X' tongue twister.
And of course, the pictures and the quality in which they are written in is what makes Graeme Base's books so much more fun to read! Visually stunning, "Animalia" is pleasurable to the eye, I especially love the beautiful picture of the 'lazy lions lounging in the local library', reading books such as 'Lassie', 'Let's Learn Latin', 'and more. If you haven't had a chance to read or even peruse a Graeme Base book, I strongly recommend you do! Terrific for both young children and adults, I'm sure the books will satisfy!
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