THE ANIMAL ILLUSTRATED, 1550-1900, text by Joseph Kastner with commentaries by Miriam T. Gross (Harry N. Abrams: $35; 128 pp.) Animals do not bring out the beast in us, but rather the child, full of awe and amazement at the mysteries of the universe. Especially wonderful is this collection of 103 woodcuts, etching, engravings, lithographs and watercolors, many in the most delicate hues and all culled from the apparently bottomless holdings of the New York Public Library. Whether it's a laughing hippo, Durer's famous rhinoceros or a very serious tortoise by Edward Lear, these beasts are a burden to no one at all.

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