A mix of titles currently on my shelves.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

No Penguins Here! Inhabit Media's "Animals Illustrated."

Illustrated by Ben Shannon
A pet peeve of children’s librarians in Alaska is the appearance of penguins in books about the North or northern animals. Penguins — as we all know, right? — live in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere we have puffins. And yet we continue to see penguins hanging out with walrus or floating on icebergs with polar bears in children’s books. *Sigh*

So — it was with great joy that I recently discovered Inhabit Media’s “Animals Illustrated,” a series featuring 24-page, beautifully illustrated and factually accurate books for young readers about animals of the Arctic.

Illustrated by Kagan McLeod

Titles thus far include “Walrus,” “Muskox,” “Narwhal,” and “Polar Bear,” with “Bowhead Whale” forthcoming.

Designed for the youngest readers, each book features nine to ten chapters of one to four pages each. Text is brief with an emphasis on basic and interesting facts.

Muskox skeleton.
Fully illustrated, each page gently informs with details about the range, skeleton, diet, babies, predators, and more of each animal, including a wonderful section on “Traditional Uses.”

Endpapers from "Walrus."

The endpapers, as well, use illustrations to full effect to convey information.

Illustrated by Hwei Lim
Design of the series is spot-on, with attractive covers and lay-out that is both consistent throughout the series and age-appropriate for conveying information visually and textually. The table of contents gives a clear sense of organization. The illustrations are both scientifically accurate, engaging, and beautiful. One improvement I could suggest is a map to complement the section on Range.

Notes about the authors and illustrators add to the authenticity of the books, in particular giving a sense of the connection between the authors and the environment of their subjects. Solomon Awa (Narwhal) was born in a sod house near Igloolik and teaches traditional knowledge at Nunavut Arctic College. 

Illustrated by Danny
Allen Niptanatiak (Muskox) “is a hunter and trapper from Kugluktuk, Nunavut.”  Herve Paniaq (Walrus) “is an elder from Igloolik, Nunavut.” And William Flaherty (Polar Bear) is a conservation officer and hunter who lives in Iquluit, Nunavut.

This attention to place is purposeful. According to their website, Inhabit Media is “an Inuit-owned publishing company, with our head office located in Iqaluit, Nunavut. To our knowledge we are the only independent publishing company located in the Canadian Arctic.” Their mission is to “preserve and promote the stories, knowledge and talent of Inuit and northern Canada.”

Forthcoming December
Though the focus of this series is the Canadian Arctic, the information contained and the quality of its conveyance makes it a useful resource for readers, teachers, and librarians in Alaska and beyond. The attention to interesting details, accuracy, visual design, and authenticity sets this series apart for interest and excellence.

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