Saturday, September 19, 2009

Urban Animals

Alligators climbing columns. Elephants supporting flagpoles. Shimmering seahorses. Donkey’s protecting windows. These are the types of creatures one may find when hunting those elusive urban animals. In her wonderful new book, URBAN ANIMALS, Isabel Hill guides us through the city, on the prowl for concrete creatures in their natural habitats.

As with great architecture, the many different elements in URBAN ANIMALS work together to make one fantastic whole. Photographic images are paired with charming rhyme that tip us off to what animal it is we seek; for hunting through URBAN ANIMALS can be a game too. The first page of each rhyme is a zoomed out photo of the building the urban animal lives on. A cute little illustrated creature sits at the bottom of the page as a clue to help readers know what sort of animal they are looking for. On the opposite page we zoom in on the animal we seek.

Isabel Hill has smoothly written architectural words into each rhyme. Words like bracket, cornice, and medallion. In back, the Architectural Glossary gives us definitions to spur further discussion. A simply illustrated city map shows the types of buildings these urban animals live on. Plus there’s a list of Animal Habitats. We get to find out exactly where each animal lives, including the building’s name, address, and the year it was built.

My older kids loved this book for the cool architecture and were interested in the new vocabulary words they discovered in the rhymes. My little one had lots of fun trying to find the hidden animals. My librarian loved the book for all that it offers to children. We all wished we had such beautiful and fun architecture where we live. URBAN ANIMALS is a great book to use to introduce kids to the beauty of architecture. They're bound to start looking closely at the built world around them. And who knows what they may find?

Urban Animals by Isabel Hill is published by Star Bright Books.

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