Alison Lester
Allen & Unwin

This is a special sparkly covered 30th anniversary edition of a book that is superb for developing youngsters’ imaginations as well as introducing them to a whole host of animals by transporting them to a variety of different settings. There’s the jungle, the depths of the ocean, a polar ice cap, a farm, a swampland full of dinosaurs, an African plain and finally, the Australian bush. This adds a search-and-find element to the experience.

Each location is prefaced by a scene of two suitably attired children engaging in creative play opposite which are seven lines of rhyming text inviting readers to ‘imagine if …’.

After this comes a panoramic double page spread simply teeming with animals, bordered by the names of the creatures depicted.

Helpfully in this new edition, there is a key to the animals found in each location on the last page and back endpapers; there were some, particularly from the Australian bush, that I couldn’t identify without it.

Alison Lester is spot on in the way she shows how young children create their own imaginary worlds as they play, plunging themselves right in and becoming part of the action. The final spread brings them back closer to reality as they’re shown engaging in domestic small world play.

I still have my original 1991 copy and am happy to find the book has lost none of its allure.

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