Jenkins, Steve. 2004. ACTUAL SIZE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618375945 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
The Goliath birdeater tarantula is 12 inches across and big enough to eat birds and small mammals! The giant anteater has a two-foot-long tongue! The giant squid’s body and tentacles can reach up to 59 feet long! Steve Jenkins highlights these and many other unique animals with his signature cut paper collage style. Several of the animals are too large for their entire body to be shown actual size, which merely reinforces their larger than life quality. The Siberian tiger is vivid orange, with fangs bared, and leaps out from the double-page spread. This “biggest of the big cats” is 14 feet nose to tail, and can weigh up to 700 pounds. The double-page spread of just teeth reads, “This is too close to a great white shark! A spectacular triple-page foldout reveals the world’s largest reptile, a man-eating, saltwater crocodile.
Jenkins illustrations are bold and colorful and invite the reader not only to read the book, but also to touch and experience the book as well. The pygmy mouse lemur and the gorilla both have hands like humans, and the life size gorilla hand invites readers to place their hand on the page for comparison. The end material gives more detailed information about each animal, including their habitat, eating habits, and different behaviors. Readers will learn that gorillas are vegetarians, Siberian tigers will eat porcupines if larger prey can’t be found, the ostrich egg is the largest egg of any animal, and the goliath frog can weigh up to seven pounds and doesn’t croak. Readers will enjoy the almost tactile sense of the pages, and the vast array of information about each animal.
Children can trace their hands or feet, or lie down and have someone trace their whole body, to get a sense of their “actual size.” Have them write a caption with some unique feature about themselves.
Other books by Jenkins that could be compared to this one:
ANIMALS IN FLIGHT. ISBN 0618123512
SLAP, SQUEAK & SCATTER. ISBN 0618033769
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? ISBN 0618256288
By Tammy Korns