As anyone familiar with Usborne Picture Books will anticipate, this publication by Minna Lacey really is a feast for the eyes for any young nature lover. The pages are crammed full of illustrations, making it a great book to sit and look at, spotting different animals and plants in the double page spreads on each occasion.

A sensory element is added to the illustrations with little inscriptions of the sounds you might here if you were standing in the picture – a fish leaping out of the river is marked with ‘Splish Splash’, and a bittern standing in reeds has the words ‘Boom Boom Boom’ floating upwards from its beak. Many of the labelled illustrated insects, plants and animals have simple one sentence facts alongside them: ‘Water plants make oxygen, which fish use to breathe’, ‘Meadow pipits look for spiders living in the bracken’ – an adult looking at the book with a small child would easily be able to bring it alive and drop in these facts as the animals are pointed out by little fingers.

Children who spent time poring over these pages would benefit from its detail and the sense of depth and variety of life in the outdoors that it conveys – it really simulates the experience of standing in a wide open space and having to tune in to sounds and movement to spot different forms of life.  This book would be of most use to pre-school readers and perhaps those in reception, as older children might enjoy a little more text and inform-ation, but the illustrations really render it a lovely gift to any child or addition to a school book corner or library.

Philippa Riste 

Usborne Big Picture Book Outdoors. Minna Lacey, Illustrated by Rachel Stubbs and John Russell (2017). Usborne Publishing. Hardback, pp32. ISBN 978-1-4095-9873-2. £12.99.

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