Books & Literature

Book Review: Masters of Disguise, written and illustrated by Marc Martin

YOUNG READERS NON-FICTION : A timely and beautiful non-fiction book for nature lovers of every stripe.

Wonderful illustrations and not only a great read, but kids will have to work to find the hidden creatures.

Marc Martin is the author of several beautifully illustrated children’s books and had an exhibition of his original water colours of Melbourne streets in 2020. Masters of Disguise is a perfect book for young children, but particularly the budding naturalist.

The informative text is in short sections, but never ‘speaks down’ to the reader. Some terms will no doubt require explanation—such as symbiotic—but it’s never too early to help kids develop an interest in the natural world and the importance of preserving it for all our sakes.

Individual illustrations of a particular animal, insect, bird or sea creature, from around the world, are paired with information on their habitat and why or how they disguise themselves. Some can change their colours to match their surroundings, others are naturally so like their habitat they are very hard to see, and then there are those that have the ability to pretend they are another animal or plant altogether. The added feature of trying to find hidden creatures in the illustrations may well encourage hesitant or reluctant readers to persevere with the book as solving a puzzle is always satisfying.

Kids, and adults too, will need to work hard to find these clever creatures depicted in nature in the double page illustrations of them. From the front cover, a veritable riot of colour depicting a tropical forest, to the back cover which is a painterly study in blue and white of a lone polar bear, Martin displays his fantastic artistic skills in portraying these amazing creatures and hiding them in the appropriate habitats. I’m sure even very young children will enjoy being read to and finding out about these fascinating creatures and then trying to find them.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: Penguin Books
Released: 30 March 2021
RRP: $26.99

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