Great Illustrated Books

Actual Size

By Steve Jenkins

Houghton Mifflin, 2004
Pages : 28
Suggested Ages: 3-10
ISBN: 9780618375943

All of the eighteen animals and parts of animals are shown actual size in this spectacular oversized science picture book. Children can compare and contrast the smallest fish (dwarf goby, length: 1/3 inch) with the twelve-inch eye of the giant squid. They can examine the biggest spider (the twelve-inch Goliath birdeater tarantula), or open out a three-page spread showing the head of the world's largest reptile (the man-eating saltwater crocodile). Each animal is illustrated with eye-popping collages of cut and torn hand-made paper, set against a stark white background, and they look so textured and real, children often want to feel the paper. The final pages provide a paragraph of facts about each of the animals.

You'll also be bowled over by the companion book, Prehistoric Actual Size. Arranged sequentially from the tiny, hard-shelled protozoan, 500 million years ago, which appears as a dot the size of a period, to the 8-foot-tall South American terror bird, the largest predator, a mere three million years ago, these creatures span the animal families—insect, fish, reptile, bird and mammal—with the most dramatic being just the 6-inch teeth of the 45-foot (or 14 meter) long gigantosaurus. Both books are a browser's paradise for readers who will want to take a ruler to everything in sight. Children can measure an animal (such as an ant, a beetle, or a cat), draw it actual size, and then find out a few fascinating facts about it in books or on the Internet.

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If you love this book, then try:

Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Spiders. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN-13: 9780439877565

Collard, Sneed B., III. Animal Dads. Houghton Mifflin, 1997. ISBN-13: 9780618032990

Dixon, Dougal. Amazing Dinosaurs: The Fiercest, the Tallest, the Toughest, the Smallest. Boyds Mills, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-1563977732

DuQuette, Keith. They Call Me Woolly: What Animal Names Can Tell Us. Putnam, 2002. ISBN-13: 9780399234453

Gibbons, Gail. Dinosaur Discoveries. Holiday House, 2005. ISBN-13: 9780823420308

Jenkins, Steve. Big and Little. Houghton Mifflin, 1996. ISBN-13: 9780395726648

Jenkins, Steve. Biggest, Strongest, Fastest. Ticknor & Fields, 1995. ISBN-13: 9780395861363

Jenkins, Steve. Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest. Houghton Mifflin, 1998. ISBN-13: 9780618494880

Jenkins, Steve. Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution. Houghton Mifflin, 2002. ISBN-13: 9780618164769

Jenkins, Steve. Living Color. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. ISBN-13: 9780618708970

Jenkins, Steve. Prehistoric Actual Size. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0618535781

Jenkins, Steve. What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? Houghton Mifflin, 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0618152438

Jenkins, Steve, and Robin Page. What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? Houghton Mifflin, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0618256280

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! Dutton, 2005. ISBN-13: 9780525469780

Sabuda, Robert, and Matthew Reinhart. Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs. Candlewick, 2005. ISBN-13: 9780763622282

Sabuda, Robert, and Matthew Reinhart. Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks. Candlewick, 2006. ISBN-13: 9780763622299

Wells, Robert E. Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? Albert Whitman, 1993. ISBN-13: 9780807536568

Critics have said

While younger kids might not appreciate the subtlety of the book's clever "actual-size" trope, readers young and old will love all the close-up views and learn a few things along the way.
Paul Hughes,
A thoroughly engaging read-aloud and a must-have for any collection.
Dona Ratterree, School Library Journal
Jenkins's life-size depictions of animals--accompanied by extended blurbs in the back--are a wondrous treat.
Barnes & Noble
Young zoologists will enjoy seeing how they measure up with the creatures on each page.
Jessica Bruder, The Washington Post