Review: 1,001 Creatures

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by Laura Merz and
Alino Jarvinen
Translated by Emily Jeremiah
Merkat Press
Picture Book Non-Fiction/ Zoology
64 pages
ages 4 to 8


From the dung-beetle to the blue whale, no creature is too humble or huge for Finnish author and illustrator duo Laura Merz and Aino Järvinen in 1,001 Creatures, a gorgeously illustrated, interactive exploration of the natural world.


Under the sun, the moon, and the stars
all the creatures of the world, big and small,
carry out their own tasks
as part of nature’s great balance.


Have you ever wondered how a crocodile keeps its teeth clean? Or why herons like to sit on the backs of water buffalo? What exactly does a giant blue whale eat to get so big? In 1,001 Creatures, Aino Järvinen and Laura Merz playfully investigate the complex and awe-inspiring world of twenty-six fascinating insects, reptiles, and mammals.

With fun facts and captivating illustrations, 1,001 Creatures explores the diversity of the animal world and its ecosystems. Interactive questions allow readers to take their curiosity and imagination off the page and into the real world with prompts to create their own artwork, imitate a camel’s unique walk, and discover the ways in which all creatures are connected in the world. Järvinen’s humorous style and Merz’s unique watercolor illustrations painted from memory using non-traditional materials, enhance the central message that we’re all in this together–human, squid, and penguin alike.


This book originated in Finland and has now been translated into the English language. Honestly, I enjoy getting my hands on such literature and love how it opens up the variety of the world.

In these pages, the authors present many various creatures on our planet. A few tidibts concerning habits, diet, characteristics and such are presented—always interesting and sure to lure young listeners in. The text is a bit playful, which is great and makes this so much more interesting than a dry textbook. And the information is unique enough that several things will stick in listeners minds, ones they won’t forget easily again. The vocabulary is just right for the age group and at a good length for a read-aloud. At the end of each two-page presentation, the authors leave off with a question for the listener, which makes them consider a certain aspect of the animal and brings everything down to a more personal level. They’ve really done a lovely job at writing in such a way which does hold listeners’ attentions.
The illustrations are a treat. They’re in simple colors and very artistic. Everything from water colors, to prints, to ink and more is used. It keeps the environment playful and yet, presents each creature in a unique and usually recognizable way. There were a couple creatures, which were more than a little abstract and not so easy to identift, though, and I’m not sure what I thought of these, since this is to teach younger readers about various creatures and increase their knowledge and appreciation. I as an older reader did appreciate the artwork quite a bit.
This is a wonderful way to let young readers/listeners learn more about some well-known and lesser known creatures in our world in a way which entertains and delivers information at the same time. I think it would make a great read-aloud and definitely open up some fun discussions.

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