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Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals

Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals

by Helene Rajcak, Damien Laverdunt

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This splendid, oversize encyclopedic study of extinct animals handles a potentially depressing subject without hectoring or mawkishness. Laverdunt strikes a companionable tone (“The passenger pigeons’ migration wasn’t seasonal.... it was all about food”), while the quiet lines and somber palette of Rajcak’s drawings—well over 100—have a classic feel. Multipanel cartoons appear on the left, while full descriptions of each animal appear at right. The informal and often humorous cartoons take up some knotty issues in animal biology: “Ah, excuse me,” inquires an ordinary deer during a discussion of the tremendous antlers of the extinct Irish elk. “Is this the international antler contest?” Animal lovers will pore over this volume for hours, learning about how extinct creatures like the glyptodon were sometimes larger than their contemporary equivalents and sometimes smaller, like the Sicilian dwarf elephant. Still, Laverdunt and Rajcak don’t gloss over the cause of most extinctions (“The moa... was no match for an enemy as destructive as man”), and the book’s message is unmistakable: when humans believe there’s an inexhaustible supply of a particular species, its future is in jeopardy. Ages 7�10. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3�6—Consider this gorgeous book a gift to the children of your community from the National Museum of Natural History in France. Whether a youngster tackles it from cover to cover or randomly browses through the pages, this book will be read; the format alone demands it. Twenty-seven animals, divided by the region they once inhabited, are featured, among them dwarf elephants, giant ground sloths, and Haast's eagle (that sported a 10-foot wingspan and talons similar to tiger's claws). Each fascinating creature is given a full spread with a comic strip on the left, featuring a sometimes humorous and other times horrifying folktale, legend, or bit of history, and on the right a clear illustration of the animal, the common name, scientific name, a size chart with a comparison to a human, and a short explanation of its life and extinction. In the preface it is noted that "few books dare to touch on humanity's role in wildlife extinction," and this book is clearly one of those few. The authors do not pull any punches in this regard; instead they present the facts as they see them. Don't let that lead you to believe that this one is a downer, not by any means; readers will leave the book with an appreciation for the amazing variety of life on Earth and a desire to protect what we have left. Unfortunately, there is no index, and the table of contents is cumbersome as it's divided by continent, then chapter title, and then by the animal featured. Still, kids will love this book.—Heather Acerro, Rochester Public Library, MN
Kirkus Reviews
Vanished animals from around the world, 26 extinct and one sole survivor, are here displayed on oversized pages in a beautifully designed album. This French import (by way of New Zealand) is an appealing combination of fact and fancy. Each animal is presented on a double-page spread. On the left, a series of often humorous cartoon panels describe tradition and myth. On the right, under the English and Latin names and a short descriptive paragraph, a single, large panel shows the creature in a natural context. These images have flat, muted colors and carefully inked details. A medallion with fast facts and silhouettes shows the animal in comparison to humans, and insets on the main image add further information. Organized into four general areas, the Americas, Africa, Eurasia and Oceania, these animals appear again at the end in four panels of a frieze, chronologically according to their disappearance, from 15,000 years ago to today. Silhouettes grace the endpapers and an opening world map as well. From the Australian long-beaked echidna to the Galápagos tortoise called Lonesome George (the "sole survivor," now, sadly, deceased), the range is impressive. (Two unfortunate errors early in the book will surprise American readers: the claims that humans arrived in the Americas only 10,000 years ago and that the Bering Strait separates that landmass from Europe.) Otherwise, a handsome and useful work. (Nonfiction. 9-15)

Product Details

Gecko Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 12.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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