Jenkins, Steve. 2004.
ACTUAL SIZE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0-618-37594-5
The Orbis Pictus Award
winning book, Actual Size, illustrates animals of all sizes in their actual size.
It contains all sorts of facts on different animals. By reading this book,
you can learn fascinating traits about the great white shark, gorilla, Siberian tiger, pygmy mouse, lemur, Goliath beetle,
African elephant, giant Gippsland earthworm, the giant walking stick, the atlas moth, and many more.
Each animal is featured
in the book with its height and weight measurements, a picture. Some of the animals’
take up only a small portion of a page in the book, while other pages in the book can contain only an eye of a giant squid
or the two-foot long tongue of a giant anteater.
The pictures of the
animals provide a lot of information to the reader. It is one thing to read that
a shark is over twenty-one feet and weighs six thousand pounds, but it is rather shocking to actually see the shark –
or one of its four-inch long teeth. The pictures help to put their sizes in perspective.
Actual Size is an informational book, presenting accurate knowledge about animals.
Jenkins has cleverly, created the book as one that goes against the stereotype boring.
The book is very appealing and works to attracts the reader’s interest.
This is a book that would work very well with reading aloud.
The short facts and
illustrations work together- to make the book somewhat irresistible. It is easy
to find yourself anxious to turn the pages to discover a new animal with extraordinary traits.
Jenkins uses a very interesting concept in this book. The pictures and
captioned one-lined facts with size measurements are featured on the beginning pages to gain the interest of its reader.
In addition, there
are paragraphs dedicated to describing each animal in more detail towards the end of the book.
This way, the reader’s curiosity of what was just seen in the pictures will influence he or she to read the short,
yet factual information about the animals.
The oversized design
of Actual Size also helps attract the readers. As Tunnel and Jacobs write,
“this format invites browsing and satisfies the reader…” (pg. 149).
The paintings in the book help define the animals. Little known facts
are featured throughout the book. These facts introduce new animals – striking
the reader to think about the subject of animals more. The facts also work to
lay the foundation for learning about animals and their interesting survival skills.
One of the most alluring
aspects of the book is that the illustrations are in their actual size. The sizes
of the animals become clearer when the reader realizes and starts to compare the animal sizes to its own size. This is an effective approach to writing nonfiction.
Actual Size would
be an excellent tool use to teach the curriculum in grade school. It could serve
as an introduction for studying and discovering fascinating animals or as a just a fun recreational reading book.