Book Review: The Adorable Circle of Life Mini Book and Adult Coloring Book

The animal kingdom is cute and cuddly and full of wonder and miraculous feats of evolution. It’s also brutal and unforgiving and devoid of sympathy for the weak and helpless. Mother Nature is indeed a cruel mistress.

Aiming to soften the edge of nature’s sharp teeth, The Adorable Circle of Life shows the dark side of the predator-prey relationship in a way that is considerably less harrowing and a whole lot more hilarious. Watching a fox pounce on a little bunny rabbit on a real nature documentary is sad and hard to watch. A cartoonish illustration of a red fox gripping a white bunny in its teeth gets the same point across without the emotional distress.

The work of artist and designer Alex Solis, The Adorable Circle of Life is a miniature–the dimensions measure 6″ x 6″–hardcover collection of illustrations depicting various predators snacking on their favorite critter meals. A lioness fang deep in a zebra’s neck. An octopus engulfing a seagull with its tentacles. A spider spinning a beautiful butterfly in its web. A python swallowing an antelope whole.

The only pairing that doesn’t quite make sense is the hippo and the impala. Hippos are aggressively territorial and no doubt deadly, but they’re herbivores, not predators. But hey, this isn’t National Geographic here so I’ll let it slide, especially since the hippo and impala illustration may just be the cutest one of them all.

The book consists of 30 such predator-prey combos. Solis’s artwork uses realistic colors with a darling chibi-esque style, tinged with just the right amount of dark, twisted humor. The animals are playfully posed and drawn with oversized puppy dog eyes that look sweet and innocent on the prey yet dead and glazed over and almost demonic on the predators. The intro and outro pages are graphic with blood and guts, but the main illustrations are fairly tame, mostly showing some blood dribbling from the predators’ mouths, as well as some mild wound gore. I probably wouldn’t show the book to a young child, but it should be safe for kids of middle school age and up.

While there is no story to follow, each illustration is paired with one or two historical quotes that provide context about the pictured predator-prey dynamic. For example, the wolf vs. sheep is accompanied by a quote from Mahatma Gandhi stating, “Blaming the wolf would not help the sheep much. The sheep must learn not to fall in the clutches of the wolf.” Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly,” is used for the eagle and deer. “It’s not easy being green,” in the words of Kermit the Frog himself, succinctly sums up the frog falling prey to the otter. The quotes come from a wide range of other sources, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln to Hannibal Lector and Winnie-the-Pooh, from Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein to Roger Ebert and Nostradamus.

Now let me ask, what’s a cute children’s-style picture book without a coloring book to go with it? Skyhorse Publishing’s got that covered too with a companion adult coloring book that adapts Alex Solis’s adorable illustrations into larger black-and-white canvases for you to bring to life with your own color palettes and artistic sensibilities. The coloring book features all 30 images from the main book, each set to new backgrounds for added depth and detail. The images really don’t outline blood trails or anything like that, giving you the freedom to freehand as much gore as your devious mind desires.

Except for one instance, the coloring book follows the same predator-prey sequence as the main book, which makes it easier to follow along and reference if you need inspiration or want to exactly copy the original artworks. Each page is single-sided and has a perforated tear line for easier removal, both of which are very much appreciated. I don’t know about you, but it annoys the hell out of me when adult coloring books have pictures on the front and back of one page. I also like that the pictures have varying degrees of complexity so that not every single one requires coloring with such demanding intricacy. The paper quality could be a thicker weight, but it’s by no means poor. I’ve finished two pages (pictured above and below) so far without any instances of tearing or pencil punch through.

A quote that isn’t used in the main book but immediately came to my mind once I finished flipping through the pages comes from the movie Interstellar, where Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper says to Anne Hathaway’s Dr. Brand, “You don’t think nature can be evil?” To which she replies, “No. Formidable. Frightening. But no, not evil. Well, is a lion evil because it rips a gazelle to shreds?” I’d say that thought is an accurate summation of the theme behind The Adorable Circle of Life.

Buy From: The Adorable Circle of Life is available for $9.99 from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. The Adorable Circle of Life Adult Coloring Book also retails for $9.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Both books are currently sold out at Alex Solis’ own website www.oddworx.com; however, a special Little Golden Book-style version of the book is available for $15.

Disclosure: Copies of The Adorable Circle of Life were provided to VGBlogger.com for review purposes by Skyhorse Publishing.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!