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Saturday, December 7, 2019


(It is a beautiful book which would be perfect for animal-lovers everywhere. Something to think about with Christmas on the way. Review by Keith Millar)

Ben Rothery is described as a detail-obsessed illustrator who combines multiple processes to create intricate and delicate illustrations and repeating patterns that are full of fine detail and vibrant colour.

Well, if his artistic output in his new book, Hidden Planet, is anything to go by his obsession produces work of quite outstanding quality. Technically perfect, enormously detailed and staggeringly beautiful, the illustrations alone in this large format book are enough to give it pride of place on a coffee table anywhere.

But the illustrations are not all there is to this marvellous publication. Rothery, who spent many happy times in the Southern African bush in his formative years, is equally obsessed by the natural world and all the amazing creatures that populate it.

His intentions with this book are possibly best described in his own words. ”This is my love letter to Plant Earth; a celebration of her hidden species, from the bold and the beautiful to the interesting but ugly. And while not a complete list, I hope that these few give a glimpse of the outstanding diversity of nature.”

In his book he features not only creatures which are hidden because of their remarkable camouflage and ability to disguise themselves, or because they live in caves or deep in the rain forest, but also those who have hidden relationships, as well as those who have unexpected behaviours and abilities.

His well-written and easy to read text is jam packed with information and fascinating facts. In each instance he gives an interesting description of the creature and its idiosyncrasies. In so doing, he displays his own sense of wonder and delight in the natural world.

And each animal featured is also brought to life by one of Rothery’s remarkable illustrations.

The pre-publicity for this book suggests that it is recommended for children. But that is far too limiting. It is a book which will be enjoyed by everyone. Be it as something to read to the kids at bedtime, or as something to dip into from time to time while it resides on that coffee table.

It is a beautiful book which would be perfect for animal-lovers everywhere. Something to think about with Christmas on the way.

Ben Rothery has published one previous book entitled Sensational Butterflies and that could be something to look out for as well.

Hidden Planet is a hard cover, large format book (370mm x 272mm). It is published by Ladybird (Penguin Random House South Africa). ISBN 9780241361009. Recommended Retail Price R300. – Keith Millar