Animalia by Graeme Base: Contains Slippery Sentences That Slide Smoothly

To fall into meticulously illustrated pages and be held there by lyrical, alliterated words is well…uncommon in an ABC book, to say the least. Graeme Base’s Animalia broke the mold on how a long and how detailed a book about something as simple as learning the alphabet can be. To experience Animalia is to experience creativity at it’s finest.

Slippery Sentences That Slide Smoothly

Your average ABC book is most likely going to be basic. They take into account mostly the fact that your child is young and needs to learn the alphabet. Animalia could not be more different. It is a far cry from basic, and it takes into account just how much a child will soak up and how creative they can be. Going through the alphabet Graeme Base uses alliterations such as “Crafty Crimson Cats Carefully Catching Crusty Crayfish” or “Great Green Gorillas Growing Grapes in a Gorgeous Greenhouse” to make the book extremely entertaining to read. Not only are the tongue twisters a challenge, but children (and maybe even yourself) will pick up vocabulary that they probably wouldn’t elsewhere.


How Did He Do That?

The illustrations are so rich with detail and vivid; it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps it’s best to keep the descriptions at a minimum-the pictures truly speak for themselves. For every single page Graeme Base adds meticulous detail to everything. To be honest, I don’t even know how he comes up with all the things to draw, let alone how he makes them all work together so well. You’re bound to have a favorite page (“Diabolical Dragons Daintily Devouring Delicious Delicacies” is one of my personal favorites) and it seems each person has a different one that speaks to them. That aside, you’ll enjoy the book just as a whole itself. To create his artwork Base uses a combination of techniques. He works on a hot press illustration board with various mediums that include but are not limited to, watercolor, watercolor pencils, air brush, transparent inks and gouache.

animalia illustrations

Animalia Review: Breaking Up A Stereotype

Animalia accomplishes something that is so very rare in a book with a topic such as learning your ABCs, and that is the fact that adults will love it just as much as children do. It proves that a simple topic does not have to equal a simple book.

Take Note Of…

In addition to the alliterative sentences and the illustrious illustrations there’s another layer to Animalia, which Graeme Base explains as follows:

“Within the pages of this book
You may discover if you look
Beyond the spell of written words
A hidden land of beasts and birds.
For many things are ‘of a kind’
And those with keenest eyes will find
A thousand things or maybe more-
It’s up to you to keep the score.
A final word before we go;
There’s one more thing you ought to know:
In Anamalia, you see,
It’s possible you might find me.”

-Graeme Base

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