Following on from her debut book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals - which I absolutely loved -, author and illustrator Sami Bayly now turns her attention to dangerous animals in another superb encyclopaedia.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘dangerous animals’? Snakes, tigers, piranhas, grizzly bears, vultures, something else? If you think you know dangerous animals, it is time to think again. Animals come in all shapes and sizes and in the world of dangerous animals, size and weight do not matter. The tiny Irukandji Jellyfish - which has a diameter of twenty-five millimetres and is ‘almost invisible to the average person’ - is just as dangerous as the Common Hippopotamus that ‘can reach four metres in length and up to two-thousand-seven-hundred kilograms.’ The sixty animals that Bayly focuses on exhibit all kinds of dangerous characteristics including; size, strength, speed, sharp teeth, claws, poisons, venoms, toxins and carrying infectious diseases.
This all sounds very frightening and it would be easy to be convinced that we’d be safer to stay indoors as animals are out to get us. However, this would be to misunderstand the animals. Bayly regularly highlights that many animals are not aggressive by nature and rarely attack without cause, as readers will quickly learn, the animals in this book are not out to cause harm but will do so if they feel threatened or their territory is encroached. Bayly has a huge respect for the animals that she writes about and urges readers to share this respect and treat animals with caution.
Animals are introduced alphabetically and everything is clearly presented with a formulaic structure throughout. Each double page spread features a beautiful hand-drawn illustration of a ‘dangerous' animal, and the opposite page features factual information including a description, danger factor, conservation status, diet, location/habitat and fun facts. A shadow illustration of the animal next to a human/human hand provides a great size comparison.
Fun facts are brilliant and I loved learning that I could potentially get a blood transfusion from a chimpanzee, that hippos produce their own sun cream, that the Mosaic Crab carries a grade one chemical weapon and that the Red Devil Squid moves using jet propulsion - truly fascinating stuff and the kind of trivia that is great for impressing friends with.
It is a fabulously curated collection and Bayly’s passion and knowledge for her subject matter oozes from the pages. From the care in the illustrations to the vast array of facts and details, there is much to admire and delight in and knowledge-hungry children will definitely get their fill.
Danger rating: High. Enjoyment rating: Extremely high.
Recommended for 8+.