First Published: 2014
Pages: 112 (hardback)
Subjects: Non-Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction, Natural History, Zoology, Reference
Series: Welcome to the Museum
Welcome to Animalium.
This museum is open all hours.
It houses an astonishing collection of more than 160 animals for visitors of all ages.
Learn how animals have evolved, see inside the dissection laboratory and discover the great variety of habitats on Earth.
Enter here to explore the animal kingdom in all its glory.
A christmas present from my best friend on my Museum Studies course (where I did my specialist module on curating Natural History collections), this oversized coffee-table book purporting to be a ‘museum…between two covers’ is utterly gorgeous to look at. It is beautifully illustrated and beautifully laid out and my friend is very lucky I didn’t spot it first otherwise I would have almost certainly brought it for myself. It was only on researching it a bit more to write the review that I saw that it is aimed at the 8-12 age group, the wonderful illustrations and simple straightforward but unpatronising prose that accompanies them are, however, an appropriate introduction or overview of animal taxonomy for someone of any age. But the target market does go a long way to explaining a few of the things I was disappointed in – mainly wanting more explanation for the interesting facts dropped about certain animals.
Laid out in ‘galleries’ rather than chapters, the museum metaphor is rather heavily laboured. It mimics the tradition Natural History Museum layout though by dividing the contents by taxonomic classification (mammals, birds, fish, et.) rather than continents or countries – which is how I remember most of my childhood wildlife reference books were laid out. What comes out of this, is a book that is more scientific in focus, explicitly about how and why certain creatures are grouped together by similar traits rather than just a more general ‘isn’t wildlife cool’ message. It also means that creatures like Porifera (sea sponges) are given as much attention and explanation as Birds of Prey. While it’s not a complete encyclopedia of animal life (with only 160+ featured animals it was never going to be) it provides a good overview of the larger animal groupings, alongside some interesting chosen examples from each major family on the tree of life. Continue reading