In Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys, British naturalist Mike Unwin (The Atlas of Birds) describes in lively language the migratory and breeding habits of 20 mammals, fishes, birds and insects from around the world. Each double-page spread includes a fact-filled explanation of the route, the problems each animal faces along the way, the time it takes to travel and the eating habits that usually play a critical role in the reasons for the migrations. Some of these descriptions place the reader directly in the action: "Imagine: You're relaxing on a tropical island when a dragonfly lands on your flip-flop." Other times, humans are nowhere in sight: "On East Africa's Serengeti plains a distant storm is brewing. The wildebeests stop grazing and lift their heads."
Child readers (or listeners) who are animal enthusiasts should quickly soak up the knowledge put forth in Unwin's lucid writing, and are likely to return again and again to Jenni Desmond's stunningly handsome mixed media illustrations. Each spread uses a different layout--some with more detailed backgrounds than others--and incorporates a caption. One such example, "Traveling Dancers," featuring a pair of whooping cranes on a spare, beige background, is reminiscent of traditional Chinese landscape painting. Another is "Forests of Flutter," in which the orange wings of monarch butterflies shine out through the deep green of the trees. A map showing all the outlines of the routes, a few fun facts and a note on improving conservation programs for migrating animals round out this excellent volume. --Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer