Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife

by Paul Thurlby

{published 2013, by Templar}

You know you have a book problem when you forget what lives in your piles. I bought this book when it pubbed back in March, and that tiger’s binocular’d glare stared me down the other day. I snatched it from the pile with the furious preying eyes of the creatures bound in this book.

(Dramatic? Sorry. You must not have heard Carmina Burana playing in the background of my opening monologue. Do you hear it now?!)In the early days of this blog (almost two years ago!), I wrote about Paul Thurlby’s AlphabetI made lame jokes about Thanksgiving (‘if you’re stuffed, feast your eyes on this!’), so as you can see my wit and humor hasn’t improved much since.

Good thing Paul Thurlby has. And that statement is a stretch as commentary on his genius, but I do think I might like this one even more than his last. This is a mashup of pictures and words in the most clever of ways.Each page shows us an animal bursting with personality. Look at that rat! (Reminds me of these rodents a little bit!) And each is captioned with a quirky fact which explains just what the heck is happening in the illustration. Here, it’s:

Keeping their skin moist by showering is important for elephants’ health.


Rats spend a third of their lives washing themselves.

Dolphins sleep with one eye open, while resting one half of their brain at a time.

Lions hunt at night, thanks to their ability to see well in the dark.Because the factoids lean toward kooky, the pictures’ silliness both shine and remain surprising.When I talked about Paul Thurlby before, I mentioned unity. Still holds. Still a package wrapped up in perfect pictures and words. But what I am most drawn to in his work are his textures. The grid, the distressed edges, the scratches, tape, and imperfections – all of those design decisions add a layer of warmth and grit to a bunch of terrifying but desperately adorable creatures.

Watch out for giraffes if you’re on stilts and run across them in the wild. They have 21-inch tongues!


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30 thoughts on “Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife

  1. Oh, Carter! I LOVE this one….the colors and the little bits of cool notes. Perfect for early el teachers, and of course, book lovers! I’m ashamed to say that I’d never heard of this author/artist. Thanks… S.

  2. I love the simple text and larger than life illustrations! What a find! The bear is my favorite! I have done the same thing with books. Buy them, and they end up hidden in my pile. Sometimes I wait for the right time to share them.

  3. Oh, this book looks fantastic! I confess, I haven’t picked it up yet because I was quite disinterested by the cover. Isn’t that awful!?! Me, judging a book by its cover. Shame. But I would be curious what your design and illustration loving heart thinks of that cover. It just doesn’t match the awesomeness of the inside pages in my opinion. I think it is the thick beige border that throws me off. I will for sure give it a try now. Thanks for shaming me into interest!

    • No shame! I love this conversation, though. I’m a HUGE cover judger. And I think it’s fair! We judge books by flap copy, or blurbs, or back cover teases, right?! Why shouldn’t we use the cover to inform our thoughts on a book? I do agree that there are about a billion (or, forty) other pictures that might have been more enticing than the current cover. Maybe a tiger is the most wild? I don’t know, but: the goldfish! That elephant! (And I wonder which came first: the cover or the endpapers?!)

  4. Thank you to the moon for letting us know about Paul Thurlby and this book…You are a gem! I’m forwarding to my granddaughter who teaches first grade and has the same sense of humor her writer Grammy has. We’ll both enjoy this book. I “ditto” all the good comments above.

  5. I just love your blog, Carter–and you for introducing us to these little gems! The pictures are fabulous, but the addition of facts for each animal put this over the top for me. Love it!

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