Review of "Actual Size"

Jenkins, Steve.  Actual Size. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004.  ISBN: 0618375945

Actual Size is a book with large pages that show pictures of various animals and how they would look in real life on that page.  The images are in a cut out and torn paper art form so there is a lot of detailed color for the atlas moth, the eye of a giant quid and the Goliath birdeater tarantula, for example.  Each animal is not really shown in it’s full size on the page, but the idea is given to young readers as if they were up close to the large, small, cute and creepy animals.  Information given on the animals such as “The Goliath frog lives in Africa.  It’s big enough to catch and eat birds and rate” along with its measurements “length: 12 inches, 36 inches with legs extended…weight: 7 pounds.”  Each animal is shown in full color with interesting facts about their size.

“Concept books ‘explore the characteristics of a class of objects or of an abstract idea…typically size, color, shape, or spatial relationships…patterns in a class (for young children)…and cross-cultural concept books for older children’ (Hepler, 1998, p. 7)” (Vardell 239).  This book is really interesting and something that is distinctly a children’s book but with informative captions.  The colorful artwork makes a child’s eyes take in the whole page and see the animal that they are reading about.  Importantly the information is limited and the picture is the primary teaching tool in this book.

School Library Journal (June 01, 2004) reviews this book by saying, “The end matter offers full pictures of the creatures and more details about their habitats and habits. Mixing deceptive simplicity with absolute clarity, this beautiful book is an enticing way to introduce children to the glorious diversity of our natural world, or to illustrate to budding scientists the importance of comparison, measurement, observation, and record keeping. A thoroughly engaging read-aloud and a must-have for any collection.”  I agree that this would work well for a story-time or read aloud for young children.  This book also won the Blue Ribbon Non-Fiction award and many of Jenkins other books such as Prehistoric Actual Size would work for young students to teach them basics about animals for a science class.

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