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A N I M A L G A L L E R Y

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Starting off with a crash of rhinoceroses, through a corps of giraffes, a hover of trout, and ending up with a dray of squirrels, Brian Wildsmith treats us to a beautiful look at collections of animals.

As far as text goes, Animal Gallery is as minimal as they come - just the collective noun of all sorts of different types of animals. They're well chosen though, with delicious words to trip off the tongue like sedge and skulk, flotilla and lepe. The mix of animals is enjoyable too, with the ones young kids will already know mingling with unexpected ones like angel fish and herons. There's plenty of opportunity for interesting discussions about the animals.

The highlight is Brian Wildsmith's illustrations. There's page after page of sumptuous paintings of animals in their habitats. It's a book to pore over and let wash over you. It's called Animal Gallery and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's just beautiful. Given its minimal text, it's best-suited for the very youngest book fans, but such is the quality that it will strike a chord with those a little older too. Those who are just too young to read for themselves will be able to 'read it to themselves', taking the important early steps towards literacy.

It's not the sort of book you'll want to read again and again, but it doesn't set out to be. It's a book to have, to treasure, and to pick up from the bookshelf every now and then and really enjoy.