Did you know that some types of earthworms can grow to be twenty feet long (p. 43) or that great whale calves drink fifty-six gallons of milk a day (p. 231)? You would if you read Martin Walters and Jinny Johnson’s new book, The World of Animals. This beautiful book is filled with fascinating facts about the animal world from single-celled creatures to great whales.
The authors divide the book into sections based on common divisions of the animal kingdom. Then each two-page spread covers a different species. Occasionally a species earns a few more pages. Gorgeous full-color photos and drawings of animals fill every page. The authors give basic facts about the animals in the species: descriptions, habitats, whether they’re endangered, food, and mating habits. In addition, each species merits a box that subdivides the species and summarizes the characteristics. Some pages include other information about the animals, such as the largest animal of the species or some unusual fact about their habitat or status.
Much of The World of Animals is “origins-neutral,” relating only facts. However, some parts are strongly creationist and some are evolutionary. The creationist philosophy appears strongly intentional. The Introduction is thoroughly creationist. Other creationist statements include:
However, most of the evolutionary statements appear to be uses of evolutionary terminology commonly used but not thought through by the authors. The authors chose the word adapt or one of its derivatives several times in ways that evolutionists would (pp. 63, 158, 179, and 240). They “relate” one species to another or talk of “relatives” of animals (pp. 67, 165, 169, 212, and 237). Usually in evolutionary circles the terms mean that the scientists believe the animals come from a common evolutionary ancestor. Here it is unclear what the authors intend. Can these species interbreed so they are a common “kind” in the biblical sense? The most troubling, most deliberate, and most questionable use of relative is, “They (the great apes) are also the closest living relatives of ourselves [sic], the human species” (p. 244). How could a creationist say this? We were a separate creation from all others. The authors could have said, “The great apes are more similar to the human species anatomically than any other creature.” The sunbeam snake’s “body has a mixture of primitive (ancient) and advanced (modern) features” (p. 154). Did God somehow update his original design of snakes?
I have included these origins-related references because to some readers they matter greatly. I know I have missed a few, but I wanted to give a full account so that readers could make a better decision. As a creationist, I want information of this quality out for the young people in my family, but I may go back and color code the passages so that the children will learn to recognize the assumptions behind the evolutionary code words.
The book is both beautiful and fascinating. The hard cover shows a sunset savannah in bold oranges and browns, but superimposed on the middle of the savannah is a close-up of a three dimensional tiger which switches from placid to snarling with a faint adjustment of the cover. Every page is colorful and contains vividly-colored photographs. Unfortunately, on the darker colored areas of a few pages, the font, especially the smaller print, can be hard to make out. That is relatively rare.
This would make an excellent book to leave out on a coffee table for young people to peruse. I don’t believe this could be used a life science text by itself, because it has no questions and few diagrams of structures, but it could supplement a program. It is an easy book to browse through and read interesting portions. No page has large blocks of printing, paragraphs are fairly short, and photographs decorate each page. – Debbie W. Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The World of Animals investigates and describes the anatomy, behavior, and habitats of over 1,000 animals. From microscopic worms and insects to reptiles, birds, and mammals, this book will provide children with an insight into the incredible range of life in God’s wonderful world. This comprehensive but easy-to-use book boasts a wide range of features to help bring its readers face-to-face with the science and beauty of the living world.