Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
It all starts with one Blue Whale. And did you know that a baby Blue Whale weighs 2700 kilograms at birth! And, its mother’s heart is a big as a car – the heartbeat can be heard three kilometres away! And, a Blue Whale’s tongue weighs as much as an elephant!
Jennifer Cossins’ The Ultimate Animal Counting Book could change the bedtime story ritual; parents will be pinching their offspring to keep them awake to discover fascinating animal facts with their children. And, yes, there’s the counting thing too.
So … 2 Colossal Squids … their eyes are as big as soccer balls, in fact the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, they have built in headlights to enable them to see in the deepest dark ocean, where they sensibly reside so avoiding predators. Elephants are number 3, no surprises there, lovely empathetic, intelligent beings. Number 4, the Orcas, often known as killer whales, are actually a species of dolphin, measure eight metres and the top ocean predator. They’ll eat anything going, although each pod has it’s own food preferences and their own distinctive sounds. Five different species of sharks, six amazing giraffes with different patterns and colours depending on their geography in Africa, and, each giraffe has its own unique pattern! So they have something in common with snowflakes.
The counting becomes challenging around 32 Gerenuks, in part because I hadn’t encountered these lovely little creatures and felt the need to pretend previous knowledge, but by number 38 and the Capybaras I gave up and declared ignorance. Capybaras look a bit like large guinea pigs, sleep in water with only a nose poking out and they enjoy socializing with other species. And right there, there is a lesson for all of us. Good opening for a conversation with our fellow counter about enjoying diversity. And, by the way the Gerenuks are small antelopes that can survive their whole life without water. Impressive.
The Ultimate Animal Counting Book also includes birds, fish and insects. It takes concentration to keep track of 86 Pipefish, (not competent swimmers apparently), 73 Sea Dragons (the male does the job of incubating the females eggs – refreshing change), 98 Ladybirds (there are 5000 different species) and 100 Fairy Flies, (the smallest insect in the World).
This large hardback book is beautifully presented, full of glossy colourful illustrations and interesting facts, a most entertaining way for children to practice counting, while learning about fascinating critters that inhabit our world.
A Lothian Children’s Book