all creatures great and small

From microscopic to mammoth, the creatures of our Earth fascinate us. Today, I’ve got two books that bring us up close to some of the tiniest and largest of them…

tiny creatures cover imageTiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton
published in 2014 by Candlewick Press

Starting off with the teensy ones. 

So tiny, “a single drop of seawater can hold twenty million” of them.

This is the world of microbes. A world that has become much dearer, and a smidgeon clearer, to me due to my son’s doctoral studies in microbiology. His patient explanations of the vital role his particular microbe plays in our world has opened my eyes anew to the elegant intricacies of our planet.

It’s not a category of creature that most young children are aware of, although “there are more microbes living on your skin than there are people on Earth.” 

tiny creatures nicola davies and emily sutton

Nicola Davies has made the subject supremely accessible to kids as young as 3, and Emily Sutton — oh my dear goodness! — has illustrated it gorgeously! If I were to imagine what the pages would look like in a book about microbes, it would not be “gorgeous” but trust me, this one is ebullient, inviting, and beautiful.

tiny creatures2 nicola davies and emily sutton

Check this beauty out, and ratchet up your sense of wonder at our world.

neighborhood sharks cover imageNeighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands, written and illustrated by Katherine Roy
published in 2014 by David Macaulay Studio ~ Roaring Brook Press

Zooming up the size charts, we come to the great white shark, “the largest predatory fish in the ocean” at up to “21 feet long, 8 feet wide, and sometimes weighing over 4,500 pounds.”

These are the monsters we don’t want to meet on our beach vacations.

Author-illustrator Katherine Roy brings them to us in all their vivid, Jaws-esque, glory. Nothing dainty about those teeth and no soft-pedaling their appetite for their blubbery neighbors, the elephant seals.

neighborhood sharks illustration katherine roy

Just look at that cover. A gorgeous watercolor submerged in watery blues and suffused with the bloody pink of a fresh kill. An incredibly powerful image of a mighty hunter.

This same dramatic strength and zealous striking force leap off the pages again and again as Roy scuba-dives us down into the waters off San Francisco, reeling us in so we’re nose to nose with the sharks. These are quiver-worthy images!

neighborhood sharks illustration2 katherine roy

Her clear, intriguing text examines each factor in the great white’s toolbox which equips them to hunt seals the way they do. The supply of seals, the temperature of the shark’s head, the unique sensitivity of its eyes — many elements create this exceptional hunter.

It’s a longish text that will fascinate non-squeamish children ages 7 or 8 and up, as well as adults. I learned…well…almost everything I know about great white sharks from reading this book! An author’s note tells about her experiences researching the book and provides resources for further reading. 

A stunning combination of science and art to capture our minds and imaginations.