Thursday 18 March 2021

Masters of Disguise

Masters of Disguise by Marc Martin (Puffin Books) HB RRP $26.99 ISBN 9781760895891

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Subtitled ‘Camouflaging Creatures and Magnificent Mimics,’ this is a fantastic book which will have a young reader poring over the illustrations and reading the interesting information for many hours.

Marc Martin is an exceptionally talented illustrator whose double-page spreads reward the reader with facts about twelve animals from all over the world including Australia. There is, for example, a double page spread about the Panther chameleon which is mostly found in Madagascar. Fascinatingly, the chameleon’s tongue is about twice its body length. There are five illustrations on its pages as well as information about the chameleon, such as its ability to rotate each eye nearly 180 degrees and focus each one independently. On the next double page spread the reader is invited to check over the elaborately and beautifully illustrated picture of a jungle region where one can see many creatures such as birds: hidden among the foliage are cleverly concealed chameleons. The next double spread is about the great horned owl the most common owl in the Americas: after this page is another double spread in which eleven camouflaged owls blend into their surroundings. Once again, readers are invited to find the hidden birds.

Martin has researched his animals to come up with fascinating facts such as the skin of a polar bear is black (though of course it has white fur to blend in with its icy home). And, too, polar bears can smell a seal from more than a kilometre away or even when their prey is hiding under a metre of snow. More facts: a stick insect, when threatened, produces an odour that smells like peanut butter or toffee to humans, but smells unpleasant to predators. Leopards are the strongest climbers of all the big cats and will often store carcasses up trees. It can take up to a month for a sloth to digest one meal.

There are many more interesting facts in this beautifully illustrated book which is sure to reward young readers from seven years and upwards. 

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