Disclosure: I received this complimentary product (Armor & Animals) through Raincoast Books.
When my lad was but a lad (he’s almost a man now!) he was FASCINATED by armor, weapons, warcraft and the like. He’s still interested, but less in the armor and weaponry and more on the planning behind the scenes which fascinates him. Anyways, one of the more interesting aspects of his fascination was learning how where people live influences how their weaponry is built. For instance, we learned of a people whose primary weapon was a club. The top of this club was shaped like a pineapple. Guess what grew around them? Pineapples. We saw this in other places of the world as well. The influence that nature and natural formations had on the design of their weapons. So when Amor & Animals arrived on my door from Raincoast Books, I was immediately intrigued.
All around us animals roam the earth. Some of these animals have obviously seen protective armour. These animals include such beasties as turtles, rhinos, snails and porcupines. Could their armour influence the armour that people make for protection and/or warfare?
You bet! Armor & Animals by Liz Yohlin Baill walks youth 5-8 year olds through 9 different animals whose protective gear influenced our own.
Learning more about Armor & Animals
Armor & Animals is a short, hard-covered book designed to answer the question, how do animals help us protect ourselves with better armor? Through 9 different animals, spanning the range from insects to mammals, children are introduced to this influence.
The book design is to lay out the question “A knight can lift the visor to look out of a helmet, just like a turtle peeks out from it’s shell”. Then it goes on to explain how that animal help to influence the design of the piece of armor.
More information about the animals and how their armor protects would have been great, as well as showing animals from the regions where the armor was designed. This is very much an introductory work, having more “meat” in it would make it even better.
Now, do I know if everything the author says is true, or if Liz Yohlin Baill is just looking for ideas to support her thesis? I don’t know? I haven’t done enough research on these specific things, but I do know that animals can influence our designs. AND I do know that a book like this would have sparked lots of questions from my lad.
The armor featured comes from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The pieces featured range from full suits of armor to a shield, staff, helmet and gear for horses, and also some chain link mail. All the armor was of European origin.
Font and Colour
The font is a great size for sharing with a group of children, or facilitating children reading on their own. I would not expect 5 year olds to read it on their own, but 8-9 year olds should be able to. The language used is quite child-friendly.
The colour palette is fairly basic using blue, yellow and red predominately (varying shades). But what they did was feature each animal and the armor in their own colour. This makes it easy to discern when a new topic begins.
Should You Get it?
Armor & Animals is definitely worth taking a look it, it’s a great book to get the conversation started. Can we be influenced by the animals around us? How might that influence look? Can we use animals to help us without hurting them? Could a turtle really provide some answers for us?
The amazement on my son’s face when doing our research on weapons and learning how where people lived affected their weapons design. You can’t know where you might get inspiration from, and if animals can help us, why not let them?