The colorful acrylics reflecting the author/illustrator’s background in design form the basis of the appeal of this book intended for a very young audience (aged 2-6). Instead of restricting herself to the usual panoply of farm animals, Stockdale introduces children to spotted animals both familiar and exotic, from “strutting fowl” to “creeping slugs.” Each colorful two-page spread shows the creature in its habitat, blended in so well it will demonstrate to children just how useful those spots can be for survival, inter alia.
At the back of the book, thumbnail sketches explain what functions the spots perform for each creature, and in what areas of the world the animals can be located. The book concludes with a quiz in which close-ups of animal spots are in squares. The author asks, “Can you find the animals that belong to these spots?” Children can turn the book upside down to see the correct answers.
Evaluation: I’m all for books that try to show children animals beyond the farm (although of course Holstein cattle make an appearance).
Stockdale has an excellent eye for detecting aesthetically appealing patterns around her. I also appreciate that the author doesn’t dumb down the vocabulary, even while her rhymes are simple (for example, “gliding snails . . . singing quails . . .”). Children will not only learn how patterns in nature serve a purpose, but they also have the opportunity to gain insights from the resemblance of the illustrations to textile design. Parents and teachers can encourage kids to look around them and identify recurring forms in nature, from spirals to stripes, increasing their understanding of how important nature is to our sense of beauty and order.
Published by Peachtree Publishers, 2015