Dorling Kindersley or DK have long been renowned for producing well researched and profusely illustrated reference books with high production values. Put simply they produce beautiful books chockfull of fascinating information, and An Anthology of Aquatic Life is a perfect example of their high standards and attention to detail.
Sam Hume is a zoologist and wildlife filmmaker, whose work has featured on the BBC. This is his first book for children. Earth’s aquatic life is a huge topic and Sam has arranged it into three broad categories: Deep Ocean; Shallow Seas, Wetlands and Rivers, Lakes and Ponds.
The designers have followed the popular format of assigning a double page spread to each life form with a couple of informative paragraphs, a close-up illustration, sometimes so large that it goes across the two pages and a factoid caption to catch the reader’s interest.
This is a book for browsing or for delving deep into a particular zone. You will find familiar creatures such as the Adélie Penguin, the Great White Shark and the Caddisfly but also plenty of unfamiliar life forms to discover. I think my favourite is the fishing cat, a native of Southeast Asia, adept at hunting flooded waters.
There is so much to explore in this wonderful book. Aquatic life covers plants as well as animals so you can learn about water lettuce found in the Amazon, the prickly water lily and the omnivorous floating bladderwort, which Sam calls ‘the tiger shark of the plant world’, and much more.
Its 225 pages are packed with information aimed at satisfying and stimulating a child’s curiosity. Each sentence is a masterpiece of concise information that will stick in a child’s mind. Here’s one: Early explorers of the Amazon reported that electric eels leapt out of the water and shocked their horses to death’ p 127. The illustrations are mainly full colour large scale photographs chosen for their detail and impact. Pictures and text complement each other in page after stunning page.
At the back there is an explanation of life moving from water to land and also back from land to water over millions of years. There is a two page glossary and a visual guide which gives the scientific name, the group it belongs to, and the size and location of each entry.