Animalia by Graeme Base, 1986.
The best part about this book is the pictures. They are absolutely beautiful and contain many small details for readers to spot.
On the surface, the book is about the alphabet, each page featuring a single sentence with every or almost every word starting with the same letter, and all of the pages are in alphabetical order. (If you’re wondering what the author used for ‘X’, it’s a fox. ‘X’ is an exception because all of the letters in that sentence end with ‘X’ instead of starting with it.) The sentences and pictures are about animals, some real and some mythical.
However, there is also a game that you can play with the book which is explained in a poem on the title page:
“Within the pages of this book
You may discover, if you look
Beyond the spell of written words,
A hidden land of beasts and birds.
For many things are ‘of a kind’,
And those with keenest eyes will find
A thousand things, or maybe more–
It’s up to you to keep the score.
A final word before we go;
There’s one more thing you ought to know:
In Animalia, you see,
It’s possible you might find me.”
Readers are invited to notice all of the other things in the pictures which start with the designated letter, and the author himself appears throughout the book, hiding in the pictures. There is a picture of him on the title page so you know who to look for.