As Large As Life / Hide-and-Seek History: The Greeks

These are 2 non-fiction books from 360 Degrees an imprint of Little Tiger: thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

As Large As Life
Jonny Marx and Sandhya Prabhat

Author Jonny Marx takes readers on a somewhat capricious world journey from Peru to the north American Chiuahuan desert, the Australian outback to the Arctic and the Black Forest to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, visiting various habitats both aquatic and on land. We meet about 250 animals (and occasional plants) – between eight and a dozen large and small on each spread, all drawn to scale. Part and parcel of each spread too, for comparative purposes, is a human figure, part of one or a footprint.

Sandhya Prabhat’s richly coloured scenes of the creatures in their natural habitats contain recognisable images of an insect as tiny as the mosquito and as mighty as the blue whale for instance ;and scattered around the images – each of which is named – are succinct comments by Jonny Marx. Did you know for instance that an Atlas moth can have a wingspan as wide as a dinner plate; or that in the case of Australia’s largest bird, the common emu, it’s the male that looks after the eggs, incubating them until they hatch. While so doing the bird doesn’t eat for drink and might lose almost one third of its bodyweight – that’s dedication. 

Mentions of poison crop up fairly frequently and youngsters will doubtless delight in the also fairly frequent mentions of poo especially this: ‘Jackrabbits are coprophagic, which means they eat their own poo when hungry!’ (By the way the antelope jackrabbit mentioned is, we learn, actually a species of hare with ears around 20 cm. long.) This reviewer was amused to read that those wombats in the Australian outback have cartilaginous backsides and they take advantage of their ‘hardened buttocks’ when biting predators threaten, by diving into their burrows head-first. Then of course there’s the fact their wombat poo is cube shaped, which I actually did know.

Talking of being threatened, on another continent Short-horned lizards shoot jets of blood from their eyeballs when under threat from predators. 

In addition to having a better understanding of relative size, there’s certainly plenty for readers young and not so young to enjoy detail-wise; and youngsters will doubtless want to impress their peers with some of the information they’ve gleaned from this book which unfortunately lacks an index, although there is a contents page.

from the same author and illustrator is:

Hide-and-Seek History: The Greeks

This is an addition to the Hide-and-Seek History series presented on large, thick card pages that have flaps (sometimes double ones) to explore on each of the half dozen spreads.

It starts with a visit to the Acropolis and environs to see a group of archaeologists busy at work; this acts as an introduction to Greek civilisation in general, saying that the ancient Greeks were the creators of democracy as well as great thinkers, artists and inventors.

Then come spreads on the Greek gods and goddesses; some of the heroes and heroines from their stories including Daedulus and Icarus, Ariadne and Heracles. 

we’re introduced to some of the trailblazing mathematicians, scientists, architectural pioneers and sporting greats; next is a look at war and combat, and finally, there’s a look at everyday life in ancient Greece

Vibrantly illustrated, interactive and written in an engaging style, this is a fun way to introduce fascinating facts to youngsters, one bite at a time.

I Am Brown

I Am Brown
Ashok Banker and Sandhya Prabhat
Lantana Publishing

Internationally acclaimed author but debuting as picture book writer Ashok Banker, and illustrator/animator Sandhya Prabhat have together created a wonderful celebration of loving the skin you’re in – brown skin, that is.

Merely reading the title of their book took me back to a time when I was visiting the Ranakpur Jain Temple in Rajasthan. Standing at the bottom of the steps leading up to it I was stopped by three young women wanting to take photos. One put her arm against mine and commented “You are so beautiful with your light skin and fair hair.” I was extremely embarrassed when another of them said, “Yes white skin beautiful, brown skin not beautiful.” She then invited me to her wedding soon to be celebrated. I hastened to say to these stunning girls that they were beautiful but I felt I hadn’t convinced them when we parted. If only somebody had given them a book that turns the whole skin colour question on its head like I Am Brown  when they were younger.

After its terrific front endpaper, the book begins with one lively child announcing ‘I am brown / I am beautiful / I am perfect’, then showing herself as the epitome of love, friendship and happiness.

We see a wide variety of occupations from astronaut to actor, writer to doctor and more, as well as …

The question of diversity is addressed in a multitude of ways – country of origin by a group of children around a globe with continents named (every one except Antarctica); that nineteen different languages are spoken – several Indian ones as well as Urdu, Turkish, German, English, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, Swahili and Japanese. We see a wide variety of clothing,

food – tacos, noodles, vindaloo, places where ‘I pray’ including everywhere and nowhere.

Fizzing high spirits and happiness prevail in a book that makes readers feel good about themselves, concluding ‘I am brown / I am amazing/ I am YOU’.

What better way to end this thoroughly uplifting, cover to cover, ode – verbal and visual – to being brown, of being you, and of being whatever you want to be.

An absolute MUST for early years setting and classrooms everywhere.