Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Review: Animal - The Definitive Visual Guide edited by David Burnie

"Animal" is a beautiful book of remarkable visual impact that illustrates and describes the amazing range of creatures that comprise the animal kingdom. The format and extensive number of fantastic photographs suggest that this is essentially a coffee table book; if it is indeed a coffee table book it is arguably the best one ever published.

An excellent 80 page introduction deals with all the major habitats of the world outlining the particular challenges that living in these places presents. The introduction alos has excellent pages on evolution, environmental issues, life cycles, animal behaviour, classification and behaviour. The main body of the book is arranged into sections for mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates and the beginning of each section contains interesting information about each group. It is probably the mammals section which makes this book most worth its cost, with an incredible array of species photographed along with range maps and information, and many of the most popular species, such as tiger and elephant, have fantastic double page spreads.

The only possible criticisms I have of this book are that it has split species which are still being debated by many scientists and that it has perhaps tried to do too much in one book. Such is the quality of information here that it may have been better to have made a book for each group of animals so that each book could expand further upon their subjects. These criticisms aside, this is a wonderful gift for older children and adults who love animals and love to browse through beautiful books.

I would thouroughly recommend "Animal" to all those interested in wildlife and particularly to those who are interested in expanding their knowledge of the amazing range of creatures that exist.

Score: 9.5/10

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