Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: URBAN ANIMALS, by Isabel Hill

Urban Animals, by Isabel Hill

Published by Starbright Books 2009

For all ages

ISBN 978-1-59572-209-6

This review courtesy of

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A photo picturebook, Urban Animals is a visually attractive collection of animal motifs used in urban architecture. The author/photographer does a fine job of inviting the reader into a world most adults (and probably children, too) pass obliviously through, reminding us all of the simple wonders that remain hidden in plain sight.

Each "creature" is introduced in a pair of photographs, a longer shot and a close-up, with simple, playful and informative rhyme that can be easily read by most younger readers. Often, the term for the architectural structure that the animal adorns is also provided. Rounding out the book is a glossary of architectural terms included in the text and a list of the buildings photographed along with their addresses in and around New York City.

The book accomplishes much, and so it succeeds on several levels. Educators will find it a wonderful introduction to architectual terms. For rural students, it's a nice way to point out contrasts, while for city kids a great reminder of the "wildlife" around them. The simple rhyming text shows how poetry can be used in conjunction with more "prosaic" themes.

This is not, however, a story book, so those seeking a tale won't find one here.

A couple observations:

The rhyming meter doesn't always work, but this is a minor consideration and doesn't detract from the book's other qualities.

I also found the glossary could have been made a little user-friendly, as I initially mistook the number associated with each term to represent the number of the page on which they appear. They don't. Again, a minor issue, but one that some children might also find confusing.

In summary, Urban Animals is sure to delight children while piquing their curiosity and educating them, all at the same time.

This review is also posted on the Amazon product page here.

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