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Frogs!: Strange and Wonderful

Frogs!: Strange and Wonderful - Laurence Pringle, Meryl Henderson The best thing about this book is Henderson's illustration. The photo-realism is among the best I've seen in the trompe-l'oeil tradition. This is because at first glance and from a distance it looks like photography, but when I stopped and actually looked and started to read, it was easy to see the watercolor technique. So it doesn't have the saturated or airbrushed feel the photorealism of the 1980s had.

As differentiated text, this book brings up some interesting feature issues. In words, the book only deals with two main structures: labeled 'portraits' of types of frogs, and the 'chapter' text itself. Each double page spread is a self-contained sub-topic (or sometimes two topics, one for each page), which is a good form of differentiation that clearly encourages browsing. I thought it was interesting that Pringle (and the book's unnamed designer) decided not to use any kind of titles or headers to call out these topics. In a way, I like this, because it lets the visuals dominate while the topic sentences clearly introduce the focus of the 'chapter'.

In pictures, this book is designed to inform me in a wider variety of ways--far more differentiated than the words are. There's one page about eyesight where a set of six frog heads are set in a 2x3 table so we can clearly compare and contrast. On the same double there is a cutaway from a whole picture of just the specialized foot. On the next page, there is a 'graphic novel' style showing a slowed down depiction of the toad unfolding its tongue to eat a moth. THIS kind of visual variety actually changes with almost every page, which is the strength of this book! Big question: Was this a collaborative decision between Pringle and Henderson, or is this visual effort all Henderson's? I'll need to look at some of their other books to see...