Infographics: Animal Kingdom by Nicholas Blechman

This is an important book, it is a non-fiction text that children will want to pick up and read. It will improve their visual literacy and understanding of animal kingdom facts and data. The book is a joy to flick through, the bright colours, interesting layouts and bold illustrations make it a pleasure to feast eyes upon. The tabbed navigation provides a fun way to read the book and gives it the feel of a filofax.

I have read several negative reviews and negative responses to certain elements of this book. One reviewer, who created an infographic to present part of his review, claimed that he found he needed to dumb down information, to make the infographic work visually, implying that this was a pitfall of the book and of infographics in general. This annoyed me, comparing a one-off attempt at an infographic, using a clunky bit of free online software with that of a professional graphic designer/illustrator and a professional researcher is not worthy of comparison. Another response I read was that infographics provide a quick hit of information where the details are difficult to retain. By definition, they aim to improve cognition of information. Reading infographics is a form of visual literacy. Primary maths and science requires children to be able to read, understand and analyse data presented in various ways – in pictograms, tally charts, graphs and diagrams. Books like this one provide opportunities for children to do this with enjoyment.

Another criticism of the book was that the lack of an index makes the book redundant somehow –that it is not; therefore a good resource for the classroom or for homework.I feel these reviewers are missing the point. It is NOT a text book! It is a non-fiction book that inspires awe and wonder about the animal kingdom, it visualises data and facts in exciting and accessible ways. It’s appealing because it is NOT a text book. The facts are fun, interesting and presented in a way that makes them memorable.

The infographics in this book reinterpret the facts and present them graphically, stylistically and with humour in order to astonish the reader and inspire a wider interest in the topic. I think it’s brilliant! I love the presentation of the book, the style of illustration and the infographics.

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