Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Travel the World: Japan: Animal Faces

I am happy to announce a new feature--a weekly feature--to Becky's Book Reviews. I call it Travel the World Wednesdays! Each week I will review one or two books. What kinds of books? Well, for the most part international books. Books that were first published in another country (not United States) that have since been published here. This includes books that were written in English (Australia, Canada, England, etc.) and those books written in another language that have since been translated into English. But I may also look at a handful of books about characters that enjoy 'traveling' the world and learning about new places and new cultures.

The first book I have chosen is a new favorite of mine although it is not particularly "new." The book is Animal Faces by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda. It was originally published in Japan in 1994, and it was published in the US in 1996. The publisher is Kane/Miller.

This is a book about observation--close observation. That means looking at things very carefully so that you are able to see the differences between things that upon first glance look exactly alike.

In this book you will be looking at photographs of animal faces, which for a particular species of animal you might expect to look very much alike. But, in fact, for each of the 24 species of animals included in this book, each one of the 21 photos for that animal shows a different face. It is up to you to look at seemingly identical faces and then to discover how they all differ from one another. This is the same as looking at a group of people who at first may look alike, but upon closer observation look very different from each other--in fact look highly individual.

It is your job to figure out how each face differs from every other one, by its markings, shape, color, or expressiveness. And then it will be your job to apply these observation skills when looking at other things that you encounter in your daily life. Have fun.

The animals shown are gorillas, camels, lesser pandas, elephants, seals, rhinoceroses, otters, polar bears, raccoon dogs, tapirs, goats, orangutans, tigers, kangaroos, hippopotamuses, Asiatic black bears, chimpanzees, giraffes, wolves, foxes, zebras, raccoons, lions, and Japanese monkeys.

Each animal has a two page spread. The name of the animal is given along with a brief description of its habitat and observations about its behavior. For example, about the Orangutan it says: The orangutan works at things very slowly but patiently. It could work all day at tearing up the grass or overturning a huge stone in its play area at the zoo. Zoo-keepers never cease to be amazed at the persistence of the orangutan. Can you spot the orangutans who look ready for mischief? Then there would be 21 pictures of orangutans...each one different and unique.

I loved this book. I loved, loved, loved it. I loved looking at the pictures. I loved noticing all the little differences. I loved how this book is an interactive experience. How the text asks you to look at the pictures with a question in mind. Much like a parent would if they were reading together. And this book does work as an interactive read with mother and child. Or should I say child and mother. I read this book with my mom the other day. And you can of course add questions of your own and make your own observations.


Unknown 10:51 AM  

Sounds like a great new addition to your blog Becky! I already look forward to reading your posts each day, but this is a new feature to really look forward to! Thanks!

Becky 6:51 PM  

It's always nice to hear such feedback! I hope you enjoy. Because I'm sure having fun reading these books!

Anonymous,  5:22 AM  

I was looking for some Japan travel information, but this post is great! I'd like to read this book! I have a new must-read item in my book list:) Thank you!

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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