Review: Wildlife Compendium of the World

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Get ready kids! You’re about to go on a wild adventure across the globe, with Wildlife Compendium of the World by award-winning author/illustrator Tania McCartney.

Filled to the brim with glorious words and illustrations dedicated to creatures that roam our world, this is a brilliant non-fiction book to engage and inspire.

Did you know there are 1.5 million ants for every human on Earth? Did you know Flamingos only eat with their heads upside down? Did you know the kiwi is the only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak?

The book is broken up by continents first and then habitats within each continent (mountains, coastlines, deserts). And each section starts with a beautiful, illustrated map and description of the land you’ll be exploring. There’s also a mini contents of the animals you’ll encounter (in case you’re on the search for one in particular).

For each animal, you’ll find information about their type, diet, size, weight and conservation status (how endangered they are). Plus a great description of the animal and the things that make them unique.

I adore how these animal descriptions start with humour or some kind of ‘wow’ fact — like monarch butterflies love a breakfast of toxic milkweed and scarab beetles eat poop for a living.

There’s also heaps of little extras, like group names and baby names. Did you know a group of bears is called a sloth? Or a baby worm is called a wormlet? 

Each animal also gets an award. The polar bear receives the largest land carnivore award, and the dugong gets the most mermaid-like award. Love, love, love!

But this isn’t just a book about animals, their features, and their habitats. I love the other details McCartney includes — things not often found in animal books for kids.

There’s discussion of binomial names (scientific names for classification purposes), taxonomic rank (ways to organise and group together animals) and all the different conservation statuses. Some of this stuff I have never heard of before, and I love how McCartney breaks it all down so it’s easy to understand.

At the back of the book there’s also pages dedicated to endangered animals and animal rights, including information about how we can help. There is just so much to explore!

And then we have the illustrations. Glorious, stunning, accurate but also fun and funky. How McCartney achieves all this, I have no idea. But she does! Make sure to check out the beautiful animal star constellations on the end papers, too. And I dare you to resist running your hands across the fabric-feel cover with gorgeous shiny embellishments.

This is a book for ALL the spaces: homes, classrooms, libraries. It’s a stunning compilation of wildlife from across the globe, designed specifically for kids. It will spark curiosity and encourage a love of both animals and learning.

Title: Wildlife Compendium of the World
Author/Illustrator: Tania McCartney
Publisher: Hardie Grant, $32.99
Publication Date: 3 May 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781741177473
For ages: 5+
Type: Non-Fiction, Junior Non-Fiction

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