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Children's Nonfiction General

Creatures Great and Small

by (author) Karen Patkau

Initial publish date
Feb 2012
General, Zoology, Size & Shape
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2012
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2006
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 9
  • Grade: 1 to 4


Join Toronto author and illustrator Karen Patkau as she explores the world of insects, mammals, sea jellies, reptiles, amphibians, birds, crustaceans, arachnids, and mollusks. From extremely large creatures, such as the blue whale, Chinese giant salamander, and goliath tarantula, to extremely small ones, such as the bumblebee bat, dwarf gecko, and fairy shrimp, embark on this informative, beautifully illustrated voyage of discovery. Even the simple fact-filled text is enchantingly presented in the voices of the animals themselves.

A glossary, map endpapers, and handy charts — introducing the concepts of scale and proportion by comparing measurements of animals that are “Big” and “Really Big” to “Small” and “Really Small” — make this book a must-have for parents, schools, and libraries alike.

About the author

KAREN PATKAU has been writing and illustrating picture books, with a focus on nature and non-fiction, for more than thirty years. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Memorial Medal for her first book, Don’t Eat Spiders by Robert Heidbreder, and since then her titles have appeared on lists including Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award finalists, Green Book Festival Award finalists, Ontario Library Association Best Bets and White Ravens selections. Karen has also illustrated Forest: A See to Learn Book. She lives in Toronto.


Karen Patkau's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Award winning author and illustrator Karen Patkau has produced a beautiful oversize non-fiction book which introduces the concepts of size and shape as well as scale and proportion to young readers. This book would make an excellent read aloud for non-readers and early readers but the fact-filled text will also appeal to independent readers. Patkau’s well researched book does an excellent job of defining the concepts… A must purchase….”
Resource Link

“Patkau has done an excellent job… Creatures Great and Small is a beautifully designed and illustrated information book guaranteed to intrigue five to eightyear- olds and should make a valuable addition to the biology section of the elementary school library”
CM Magazine

“Sharp lines, bold colors, and careful composition of the computer generated art successfully convey the rich variety of creatures and environments, accentuating similarities and differences. Labeled illustrations at the back of the book introduce concepts of scale in a clear and inviting way.”
School Library Journal

Librarian Reviews

Creatures Great and Small

From the biggest to the smallest, award-winning illustrator Karen Patkau takes us on a journey around the animal kingdom. It’s a simple concept, exquisitely executed in both text and illustration. Each double-page spread contrasts a large and small animal within the same class. The African elephant and the bumblebee bat, the anaconda and the dwarf gecko, the ostrich and the bee hummingbird – each pair of animals illustrates the extremes of the group. Each animal narrates its own description; the red ant says, “I am little, but very strong. You can find me on land, almost anywhere on Earth. I live with a large ant colony, in an anthill or a rotting tree. Hard at work, I scurry about.”

The text is interesting, informative and simple to read and understand without being contrived or precious. There are comparative charts showing all the big animals and all the small ones and how they stack up together. I love these kinds of charts – so much information is conveyed in such a neat and efficient way. The author has also included a glossary of scientific terms and a world map indicating where each animal is found.

Patkau has traditionally worked with paper collage. The illustrations here look like collage but are actually computer generated. She feels she can play with computerized images in a similar way as with collage, by adding layer upon layer. The effect is bold and striking with lots of bright colours and sharp contrasts. The strong contrasts in colour and shape nicely complement the overall theme of the book.

This is a great book for classroom use in the primary grades or just pleasure reading for young children.

Recommended for school and public libraries.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2007. Vol.30 No.3.

H Creatures: Great and Small

Join award-winning Patkau as she embarks on this informative, beautifully illustrated voyage of discovery. The simple, factfilled text is presented in the voices of the animals themselves.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

Other titles by Karen Patkau