Monday, April 24, 2017

Non-Fiction Monday: Big Book of Animals: a Lego Adventure in the Real World

Big Book of Animals: a Lego Adventure in the Real World. 128 p. Scholastic Inc., February, 2017. 9781338130072. (Review from finished copy courtesy of reviewer.)

I doubt there are many who will be able to resist this adorable tiger cub staring out from the cover of this attractive title. If the picture doesn't grab your young readers, perhaps the Lego log and brick design framing the cover will. What does Lego have to do with informational books? I wondered the same thing and my thoughts did turn a bit cynical, truth be told. Here's a link to the partnership page since the book just gives the main Scholastic link and I did not find a search box on the home page. This particular title is not shown (as of 4/24/17) in the line-up of titles, but has a downloadable building starter associated with it.

A bubble adjacent to the Table of Contents explains that Lego and Scholastic have entered into a partnership to bring a series of nonfiction titles out containing, "amazing facts, beautiful real-world photos, and mini figures everywhere." Let's start with the positive - real world photos? Check. Lots and lots of them. Beautiful? Double check - lots of crisp, clear, color photos. Many are close-ups. Mini figures? Check. There are explorer guides/ responsible for each of seven biomes and they are all dressed appropriately for their biomes. That said, they lead a rather eclectic group of explorers/ tourists whose running commentary is supposed to add humor. This is fine, but more information about the biomes and animals might have increased the value of this volume as a resource for reports.

Additionally, a construction guy appears periodically to suggest some building ideas, which is where the Legos come in. Presumably, young readers will be inspired to pull out his or her bricks and mini figures. This is encourages imagination and free play. This is sort of refreshing since there are so many themed kits available for purchase, some kids might not realize that Legos can be used for their own creations. I'm serious! A robotics teacher whose class I observed told me that she wanted the kids to build their own programs without relying on building/ programming instructions and most of her students couldn't do it.

Now for the amazing facts - where the pages are crammed with photos, the "amazing" facts are a bit brief. There's a text box of "Minifacts" on each double-page spread and a very general overview of a variety of animals in each biome. What I found particularly interesting was the group  name feature, which stated either none or the collective noun if the animal had one associated with it. Some of them were quite fun!

This is more a browsing book for most readers. Having raised a few Legomaniac fact hounds, I would've been all over this as a parent. If budget dollars are tight, its report value is limited. If you want enthusiastic browsers lining up and have the dollars, this title will be hot.

The books in the series are colorful and attractively designed. I would be interested in getting a few of the titles. A short glossary and index, as well as picture credits conclude the volume. There is no additional back matter.

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