Friday, January 1, 2010

Animals By Design

Animals by Design is an attractive book, sure to delight children with its conversational text and brilliant animal photos. It will also get children thinking about how God created the animals. Health/science teacher and nurse, M. Elizabeth Philp, asks readers to try designing an animal, and then shows us how God must have thought about the animals He made. This appears to be in contrast to evolutionary ideas, but Philp is subtle about her presentation.

Animals by Design is written in rhyme, and asks lots of questions of the reader. Philp spends the first six pages asking us to imagine new animals (a cross between a dog, goat and lion, for instance) and try to come up with names for them. In the next three pages, she explains complex concepts must have a designer who could visualize, illustrate and create the animals in our world.

Philp's use of questions keeps the reader engaged and responding to the text. For example, on a page featuring giraffes and chimpanzees, she asks, "What color should we make him?/Should he blend in or stick out?/Should he stay in just one place/or always move about?/Is his shape of special note?/Are there patterns on his coat?" Each page also includes a fact box with additional information about the animals pictured.

Philp ends her book saying, ""Let's consider the Designer who/through the power of His mind/brought to life each marvelous,/magnificent design!"

What I Like: I love the presentation of this book. The photos and illustrations are bright, vibrant and interesting. Philp uses a good mix of familiar and unusual animals, and I learned lots of new facts about them.

I also like the way Philp keeps the reader engaged through her use of questions. She doesn't just present information to be absorbed--she asks her readers to think critically and arrive at conclusions on their own.

This would be a great book to use in a classroom or home school setting. You could ask children to make their own animal, or to do additional research on some of the animals Philp mentions.

What I Dislike:
The book can get long. It is 36 pages, and includes lots of text. Although you can shorten the reading by skipping the fact boxes, you lose interesting information this way. Even though I liked the activity asking us to design an animal at the beginning of the book, six pages was too long to devote to it. After the first couple of pages, I still wasn't sure where she was going with the activity. It would work better to read over several sittings, rather than all at once.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: Publisher lists "children of all ages," but I would say 7 and up. My 5 1/2 year old had a hard time sitting still for the whole book.

Publisher Info: Mary Beth Philp, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-615-18867-6 ; Paperback, $12.00

Buy it at for $12.00.

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Jean said...

The photos look gorgeous. I'll check it out on Amazon.


Erin said...

Thanks for reading our reviews! The photos are great--I hope you enjoy them. Erin

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you, Erin, for your kind and thoughtful review of my book, Animals by Design.

Your point of the book being long is well taken. What I recommend is that only the rhyming text be read the first time through so as to not lose the conversational thread. Then the reader can go back and explore each page at their leisure, reading the fact boxes and discovering how the facts connect the text to the particular animal on each page.

Best wishes, Beth