Book: Actual Size

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Actual Size

Author: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company

How big is a crocodile? What about a tiger, or the world’s largest spider? Can you imagine a tongue that is two feet long or an eye that’s bigger than your head? Sometimes facts and figures don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes you need to see things for yourself ”at their actual size.


Steve Jenkins (What Do You Do with a Tail Like This ?) returns with another inventive, involving picture book — this time inviting young readers to see how they measure up against a variety of different animals (represented in colorful, cut-paper collages at actual size).

Each spread of Actual Size presents a new animal or two for readers to check out, along with a few interesting facts and physical dimensions. Some of the colorful collages display the entire animal at actual scale (like the fleshy, 36-inch length of a giant Gippsland earthworm) while others can only feature what fits on the page (an African elephant’s foot, a Siberian tiger’s face, or even just a gaping maw sporting a few four-inch-long teeth of a great white shark). Two fun fold-outs show a Goliath frog (“It’s big enough to catch and eat birds and rats”) and the long, toothy smile of a saltwater crocodile (“the world’s largest reptile…a man-eater”).

Jenkins’ collages capture the texture and color of these cut-out creatures, and the thoughtful inclusion of an illustrated index shows each animal in its scaled-down entirety, accompanied by longer, fact-filled descriptions. While younger kids might not appreciate the subtlety of the book’s clever “actual-size” trope, readers young and old will love all the close-up views and learn a few things along the way. (Ages 4 to 8) —Paul Hughes

Barnes and Noble

Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins delivers this mammoth-sized animal book that shows moths, ostrich heads, anteater tongues, and other animal features in actual size. Working with stunning torn- and cut-paper collages set against stark white backgrounds, Jenkins briefly describes exotic animals—listing their length, weight, and other stats—as he showcases what makes each of them so remarkable. Whether it’s a Goliath birdeater tarantula at a gargantuan 12 inches across, a pygmy mouse lemur at 2½ inches tall next to a gorilla’s hand, or an eye-popping fold-out of a saltwater crocodile’s head, Jenkins’s life-size depictions of animals—accompanied by extended blurbs in the back—are a wondrous treat.

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