Abrams Books for Young Readers, 1987, 2012
From the dust jacket, “Celebrate 25 years of this classic alphabet book with this special silver-anniversary edition! More than three million copies of Animalia have been sold worldwide, making Graeme Base’s amazing alliterative alphabet book one of the most beloved titles of the past quarter century! Animalia’s incredible imaginary world intrigues all readers, whether or not they know their ABCs.
“Each page includes hidden objects and ideas: start with “A is for An Armoured Armadillo Avoided an Angry Alligator” and you’ll find aprons, ants, aces, Atom-brand anchovies, and much more. The rest of the alphabet is just as fun!”
This is really a fun and challenging book. You can look for a long time on each page and still see new stuff. There’s also a bit of “Where’s Waldo” with the young boy at the beginning of the book hidden on every letter illustration. Graeme Base is an amazing artist – the amount of detail is, well, amazing! I can’t wait to check out his other books!
Strangely, the book was challenged at a school library in Texas for violence and horror, and at Storm Lake Public Library (IA) in 1992 when “two citizens discovered ‘satanic symbols’ and offensive images inside the book’s artwork.”
As we were unable to find evidence of violence and horror, I’ve included 2 images that might be borderline for some readers: “Horrible hairy hogs hurrying homeward on heavily harnessed horses” and “Kid Kookaburra and Kelly Kangaroo kidnapping Kitty Koala.” As for the other complaint of satanic symbols and offensive images, we found a zodiac calendar on the letter ‘Z’ page; a yin and yang symbol on the ‘Y’ page; a witch on the ‘W’ page; a vampire, a voodoo doll and a bottle of vermouth on the ‘V’ page – shall we go on? Maybe it was the Soviet flag or the swastika that was on the ‘S’ page that offended. As with any thing, if you’re looking for stuff to be offended by, you will most definitely find it. We find it better to let each reader decide for themselves and no one else!
Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for a totally imaginative book with out-of-this-world illustrations. Not to be missed and never duplicated!!
Simon & Jack