Kid Lit Review of “Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics” by Steve Jenkins

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This wonderful book by award-winning writer/illustrator Steve Jenkins presents facts and figures about animals in a visual manner, in the form of graphs, symbols, and illustrations. As Edward Tufte, Yale professor emeritus and pioneer in the field of data visualization, points out in his book Envisioning Information, the world is complex and multidimensional, and we have an enormous accumulation of material about it. Visual depictions help us manage all that information in a succinct, artistically pleasing, and informative way. They are, he observes “treasures, complex and witty, rich with meaning.”

Many such treasures fill this book, teaching us about relative weights and speeds of animals; which animals can survive the most extreme conditions; which are the most dangerous; the sounds they make; how far they travel in search of food, mates, or habitat; and so on. Best of all, humans are always added to the mix, so you can make comparisons.

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For example, in the infographic on maximum speed, we see that while humans can run at approximately 23 mph, peregrine falcons can fly at speeds of up to 200 mph! Cheetahs race at 64 mph and even whales, the slowest on the scale, top out at 16 mph.

You may be astonished to learn that koi fish can live up to 226 years! Even lobsters, if they stay away from restaurants, can reach the grand old age of 140 years.

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The information on heartbeats per minute ranges from hummingbirds at an amazing 1,200 beats per minute to the blue whale at a stately 10 beats per minutes. (Humans average 70 beats per minute.)

Would you have guessed that wildebeests take part in the largest migration of land animals on earth? Or that snow leopards can leap fifty feet at a time? How about the fact that a bulldog bat is as loud as a jet plane taking off?

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All these facts and more are presented in such a colorful, reader-friendly format that you can learn a great deal in a very short time, enjoying every minute of it.

Evaluation: If you have kids who like animals, science, or who have lots of questions about the natural world, this book will be perfect.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

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2 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics” by Steve Jenkins

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    I love information presented visually like that so think I would love this book!

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