A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies

A First Book of Animals

Written by Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Petr Horacek

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

What a wonderful book to give to a child. It’s one which will inspire a real interest in nature and the creatures that share our planet, as well as an appreciation of art and poetry. Nicola Davies shares her delight in animals in specially written poems, each of which is illustrated by Petr Horacek across dazzling double pages. Grouped by themes such as colours and shapes, or animals in action, creatures big and small are vividly brought to life, from the whale shark, ‘like a piece of fallen starry sky’ to a barn owl, ‘quiet as the floating moon’. The images are breath-taking, full of movement and colour; the poems too are varied and memorable, sometimes precise, sometimes ethereal. It’s a book that recipients will treasure into adulthood. ~ Andrea Reece


A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. Polar bears playing on the ice, tigers hunting in the jungle, fireflies twinkling in the evening sky and nightingales singing in the heart of the woods - there are animals everywhere.

From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures. This book is a glorious celebration of life in the wild in all its variety and splendour, and belongs on every child's bookshelf.


This time Davies teams up with Petr Horacek to introduce a dazzling celebration of the wonders of life on our planet. It's a book that defies categorization: part poetry, part picture book, part non-fiction. I love the inspirational approach, using a lyrical but accessible text to explore facts that will fascinate readers. The Bookseller

Davies is one of our very finest natural history writers for children. A First Book of Nature, illustrated by Mark Hearld, was an international bestseller and it's a book I have given as a gift numerous times. This is the second titie in the First Book series - and i's just as dazzling and accessible. An epic exploration of animal life on our planet, over 50 different creatures are revealed, from monkeys as small as teacups, to majestic blue whales, and fireflies twinkling in the evening sky. They are grouped not by genus or region, but in inventive chapters such as Colours and Shape, and Animals in Action. The tone is inquisitive, very much encouraging readers to think for themselves. It's a book that defies categorisation: it's a non-fiction book, a picture book, a volume of poetry. A book to dip into, to read aloud, a book to enrich children's research of topics. Horacek's pictures of the animals and their habitats are lush and on a grand scale, creating a sense of life bursting from the pages. A book for every school, library and home. The Bookseller

A lyrical, inspirational text is paired with dazzling pictures of animal life around the planet, from blue whales to bumblebees. The Bookseller

About the Author

Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies - As a child

Nicola says: I don't remember a time when I wasn't utterly besotted with animals. I spent all my time before I went to school, in the garden with my lovely Grandpa (who was small and round and had all sorts of things in his cardigan pockets) looking at flowers, and ants and bird's nests. My parents moved around quite a lot so I was always the new girl in school, which meant I spent a lot of time on my own reading and thinking... still my two favourite recreational activities. What finally saved me at school was that I learnt to make people laugh. But I was still mostly by myself, alone, out in the fields in Suffolk where my parents then lived, walking my dog and listening to the skylarks.

As an adult

I did a zoology degree and went on to study various animals in the wild; bats, geese, whales... Then I went to work at the BBC Natural History Unit, first as a researcher and later a presenter on 'The Really Wild Show'. TV was fun for a while, but I really hated the pressure. The good thing about it was that it allowed me to earn money, and still have time for my kids when they were little. I've loved being a mum, absolutely adored it. Some of my happiest memories are of reading my kids books I loved as a child - books like the Lord of the Rings. I can still make my daughter squeal by doing my 'Gollum' voice!

As an artist

I wanted to write from about the age of twenty, and I wrote scenes and characters in my head all the time. But never put anything on paper. I would go into bookshops and see all those books and think, there's just too many and I'm not clever enough to do yet another one. So I didn't start writing until my thirties, when I began to write scripts for kids' programmes. I gradually got more confidence and started to write for Walker Books, then for newspapers and magazines and then adult novels. I've just started to write poetry for children too. I'm terribly disciplined about my writing. I just sit down at my desk and get on with it every day I have, and get really cross about being distracted. I also teach writing at a university now and sometimes I get really cross with that too, because it keeps me from getting as much writing done as I would like. I love children's films and cartoons... Lilo and Stitch is my favourite at the moment. I cry every time in Babe when the pig says to the sheepdog, 'Can I call you Mum?'

Things you didn't know about Nicola Davies

1. If I were rich, I would fill my whole house with flowers all the time.

2. I have a sister who looks and sounds just like me.

3. I love singing and I know lots of folk songs (some with rather rude words!)

4. My children are always telling me off for saying sorry all the time.

5. I used to study whales in Newfoundland, dressed in nothing but wellies (only on hot days)

6. I used to keep Shetland sheep which I sheared using a pair of kitchen scissors.

7. I'm expert at wringing chickens necks (but I suppose you didn't really want to know that!)

Please note there are two children's authors called Nicola Davies which our systems are unable to tell apart. The books Star in the Custard, Shampoo and Seawater, and Stories from Abergele Street are not written by this Nicola Davies. Apologies.

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Book Info


108 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Nicola Davies
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

6th October 2016




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