Seeing Spots – Thursday quickpicks

We found three picture books full of circles, spots and dots that will have readers seeing stars!

Spectacular Spots, by Susan Stockdale; Peachtree Publishers, $15.95, 32 pages, ages 1-5.

Gliding snails, snakes and slugs all have spots, and in this charming follow-up to Susan Stockdale’s Stripes of All Types readers also learn the purpose of these shapes. Large and cheerful paintings of all sorts of animals are accompanied by short easy-to-follow rhymes.  A cute matching game rounds out this sweet introduction to spotted creatures.

Spots in A Box, by Helen Ward; Templar Books, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 2-5.

British National Art Library Award winner Helen Ward’s longstanding love of illustrating charming critters (Town Mouse and Country Mouse; Varmints) continues in this story about a spotless guinea fowl. Feeling left out, the plucky bird sends away for spots of his own, and what arrives aren’t exactly what he had anticipated. Spots in A Box is a sensory feast – Ward’s tight prose and trademark watercolors are as meticulous as ever, accompanied by paper cutouts and spots that feel like pressed sequins. A tour de force.

Information Graphics: Space, by Simon Rogers, illustrated by Jennifer Daniel; Big Picture Press, $17.99, 80 pages, ages 8-12.  

The latest addition to the neon-hued fact-filled Information Graphics series deals with the universe.  Seven tabbed sections cover everything from explaining the solar system to how humans explore space. Dynamic duo Simon Rogers (author of the Guardian’s Datablog) and New York Times designer Jennifer Daniel have made studying the heavens an enlightening endeavor filled with fun. 

Animalium (Welcome to the Museum), written by Katie Scott, illustrated by Jenny Broom; Big Picture Press, $35.00, 112 pages, ages 6-12.

This stunning oversize volume bills itself as an all-hours natural history museum that houses creatures alive and extinct. Following an informative preface by Dr. Knapp from the Natural History Museum of London, author Katie Scott explains the book’s layout – here, the six chapters are actually separate galleries classified by animal and each one moves up the evolutionary ladder from invertebrates to mammals. Chapters also include animal habitats ecosystems, and even a few dissections illustrating animal’s interior circuitry. The show-stopping pen and ink plates by Jenny Broom recall nineteenth century wildlife lithographs and engravings.  160 animals are identified by numbers corresponding to an accompanying key with the critter’s common and Latin name, plus identifiable characteristics. The folio sized pages allow readers to examine in great detail the various bits and parts that make all of Earth’s creatures perfectly suited to their habitats.  There’s no bibliography, but the appendix includes five fabulous websites, such as those run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic which offer opportunities for readers to continue their explorations within the animal kingdom. Budding naturalists of all ages will find themselves getting quite enjoyably lost in the vast pages of this unique museum.