Wildlife Compendium of the World – Tania McCartney


Hardie Grant

May 2023


Imprint: Hardie Grant Explore

RRP: $32.99

I can safely say without hesitation that Tania’s gorgeous picture books are only surpassed by her utterly glorious non-fiction books. You may disagree – but you’d be wrong in my opinion! I have always loved informational books – yes, I was the nerdy kid who ate them up whether Readers Digest, Time Life, How and Why Wonder and many more – all were grist to my mill.

So, when I see the truly beautiful but equally fascinating non-fiction that Tania creates, I am in heaven.

The first thing to stun the senses with this new volume, is the utterly elegant and strikingly alluring binding. The copper foiled textured cover is one of the most sublimely pleasing and tactile I have seen in a long time – I spent some time turning it this way and that, admiring it (yes, I did tell you I’m nerdy).

Young readers will be enthralled with the journey Tania takes them on around the world focusing on amazing creatures from each of the earth’s regions whether as small as a yellowjacket wasp or as large as an Asian water buffalo, aquatic or arboreal, cute and cuddly or deadly dangerous.

Each spread is just a pure joy and readers will immerse themselves in the factual snippets about each species. To preface the global tour, Tania outlines animal types, plus scientific classifications, and explains succinctly taxonomic rank plus conservation status. She expertly defines habitats, biomes, ecosystems and environments and further details the types of environments.

After these introductory pages the tour proper begins starting with the Americas, then Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Antarctica and Oceans. The journey concludes with sections on Endangered Animals, Animal Rights and a very thorough glossary.

There are special touches which makes this a true stand-out (as with all Tania’s books). The endpapers are a rendition of the night sky and the ‘animal’ constellations, which I absolutely love and which, I believe, will encourage young readers to realise that we are one world, and that same sky (although it may look different depending on locations) is above us all. Tania’s dedication is very delightfully a homage to the content of the book, and I loved my personal letter which accompanied my copy.

Of course, it is not just the well-researched and equally well-presented information that makes this a must-have. Tania’s divine illustrations are, as always, a glory unto themselves and children will spend many hours poring over them, I predict.

I cannot even begin to comprehend the labour of love this book represents, nor the hours (weeks, months) it has taken to reach fruition but like all Tania’s work, it is so beautifully executed that it will surely take pride of place on many bookshelves.

If this is not in line for the coming year’s awards line-up, there is something seriously wrong with those who judge such things. I have no doubt that if we took it to the children, they will give it their resounding endorsement.

Likewise, I give this my highest recommendation for your curious young (and not so young) readers who relish a factual volume that is lush in its presentation. Another triumph Tania – you truly are one of the most outstanding book creators we have for our young people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s