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Animalia Hardcover – September 20, 1993
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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
From Publishers Weekly
PW called this intricately detailed, oversized alphabet book "a delightful visual feast," praising Base's "meticulous" and "far-reaching" artistry. All ages.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
My son got married a year ago last summer and his wife is going to be an elementary, early childhood teacher. I drew her name for Christmas, and heard that she really wanted some children's books to start her personal and classroom library. Animalia was a natural addition to that list!
Animalia is an ABC book, but with a twist. Graeme Base is an exceptional artist. It took him years to complete the artwork for this book. Each page and sometimes both pages are devoted to a single letter. Each page has a major image and many, many smaller ones...all linked to the letter of the page. I find that I'm still identifying things linked to the letters as I flip through this book.
The pictures are large and bright. The combination of images on each page is fun and inventive.
I frankly think my son was as excited to see this book appear as his wife was; this is one of the memorable books from his childhood.
This is a large format book, and can entertain a child for hours.
5 solid and well-deserved stars.
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. The kidnappers look conspicuously like disgruntled members of the IRA with their green plaids and golf hats. The wooden guns are NOT aimed AT Kitty Koala, but PAST her at whatever unseen interlopers might threaten their holding her for ransom. And SHE is dressed to the nines in diamonds and pearls and satin, with red lipstick like a thirties debutante. And she's got a Kit-kat and keys poking out of her sequined handbag. This is so "dark and disturbing"? Come ON!
Yep, there are a lot of mythological creatures, but none that don't show up regularly in the vernacular and even in Disney movies. And there are just as many Christian symbols (see above). And yes, I also found one tiny swastika (after much searching). But the Star of David appears at least as many times, more obviously, and there is a prominent Peace Parade on the P page with the Pope near the head of the crowd (along with a pirate, a policeman, a politician, a pregnant lady, and others). If anything, Graeme Base's political agenda is to be more accepting and inclusive. Everybody gets fair representation here. And by making the characters animals rather than people, he totally skips over the issue of race. Animals don't have "race." They just are. This book is an excellent overall cultural primer, probably educational no matter what your age.
I rush to reccommend it without remote reservations.