T is for tuatara: Amazing animals from A to Z reviews
This picture book is a gleeful set of verses about unusual creatures, arranged in the traditional A to Z order. (And, yes, there is an X and a Z.) While there is plenty of humour, there is also any number of interesting facts in this colourful bestiary. Llamas have ears shaped like bananas and some piranha are vegetarians.
The verses are often very funny and their rhymes and rhythms work well.
It is pleasant to think of some young child doing a public recitation of the entry for the vulture:
‘Vultures like meat that is stenchy and rotten.
Leftover bits that the lion’s forgotten.’
For those inspired to take up a pen after reading this book, there are two pages of admirable advice and tips on how to write poetry.
Deborah Hinde has an affinity for illustrating animals and she has clearly enjoyed herself in creating handsome colour portraits of these sometimes unhandsome beasts. Blobfish and mandrills, gharial and dugong are not winners in the cuteness stakes but their pictures here are gorgeous. Even the weta comes out well. Readers confused by the hilarious painting of a chameleon hiding in a bowl of M&Ms will find a slightly less eye-popping pose on the back cover.
A double page section presents more facts about every creature: ‘Indris can leap 10 metres!’ There are also curly questions, such as ‘Do dugongs grow tusks?’ to send the reader back to the text.
The result is an attractive and amusing book of beasts.
Trevor Agnew - 11 October 2021