Today is National Wildlife Day, a perfect day to share the just published children’s book The Animal Awards written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Tor Freeman.
The Animal Awards uses the entertainment awards ceremony in an innovative way: to present a natural history of unusual animals who would probably not be in a collection together, or maybe not in a book at all. Using categories such as “The Amazing Egg Award”(ostrich), “The Best Bouncer Award” (kangaroo), and “The Magical Healer Award” (axolotl), Freeman introduces fifty animals, insects, and sea creatures.
The book is entertaining and informative with engaging text and charming illustrations. Each “award” spread has a description of the animal on one side with basic information: category (e.g., bird, reptile, insect, or mammal), habitat, lifespan, and diet. In describing why the animal has won the award, Freeman offers a brief profile of the creature with interesting facts. On the facing page, an illustration or series of illustrations exhibits additional facts. In the illustration of the tortoise, for example, winner of “The Centenarian Award,” the illustration compares the lifespan of the tortoise, Greenland shark, black coral, and ocean clam. The illustration page for the lion, winner of “The Marvellous Mane Award,” has four smaller drawings showing what life is like in a lion pride.
In addition to providing a natural history of these interesting animals—also including penguins, elephants, bats, terns, bullfrogs, cheetahs, jellyfish, and so many more—the book sensitively discusses extinction and threats to endangered populations.
The Animal Awards uses humor to convey a wide array of interesting factual information. Although some of the vocabulary or concepts may require the help of a parent, teacher, or guardian to understand on first exposure, I think this is a book that kids will return to again and again for the fun facts and absolutely adorable and informative illustrations. It would be a wonderful gift and addition to a school or home library.
If you would like to know what you can do to help save endangered wildlife today and every day, visit the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Thank you to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s book for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.