October 25, 2018

Canada Animals

Written and illustrated by Paul Covello
HarperCollins Canada
30 pp.
Ages 0-5
September 2018

I don't review a lot of concept books because too many are mediocre. So many people think that doing a book based on the alphabet or numbers 1 through 10 or colours would be an easy write. It's not. The premise is firmly established but putting a book together to be meaningful while different and original is very difficult.  Fortunately, author-illustrator Paul Covello excels at concept books. Having already reviewed Canada 123 (2017) and Everyday ABC (2018), I know that he goes far beyond just teaching the concept of numbers or letters or, here, animals. He lodges that concept in a rich landscape that teaches and provides context beyond the foundation.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
Canada Animals introduces little ones to 43 animals found in Canada.  Some are common to many regions, like the deer, moose and robin, but others have more limited distributions like the beluga whale, muskox and spirit bear. Still Paul Covello includes a variety of animals from across the country, from west coast to east coast and far north waters and land. There are mammals like the pine marten, bison and porcupine; amphibians like the wood frog;  birds including the chickadee and puffin; fish like salmon; and the lobster as crustacean. Young children will recognize some and learn about new ones, and learn they will because Paul Covello embeds the natural history of the animals in his illustrations. For example, the illustration with the snowy owl shows the landscape of its Arctic habitat, that its nest is on the ground and that the juveniles have black feathers.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
Similarly, the page about the bighorn sheep shows the physical differences between the male and female, the light-coloured young, a pair of rams fighting and their mountainous and rocky habitat.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello
There is much to learn about habitat, feeding, young and behaviour of many of the animals included in Paul Covello's Canada Animals, but it's most important to note that he's honouring those found here in Canada. In his realistic yet stylized artwork with its bold colours and crisp lines, Paul Covello makes Canada Animals an animal guide for our youngest set who will love getting to know the animals around them and search out others if and when fortunate to travel our country.
From Canada Animals by Paul Covello

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