The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals introduces readers to those that are perhaps deemed the less attractive ones in the animal kingdom. These are the animals with the lumps and bumps, the crinkles and wrinkles, and plenty more. However, before we get caught up on the ugly it is worth knowing that many of the animals that feature in this book have a purpose to their ugliness. And it is very often the case that their ugly feature is a result of adaptations and evolution that have been necessary in order for the animal to survive.
The fabulous book features sixty ‘ugly’ animals that roam the earth, live under the ground and swim in the seas - from the Asian Sheepshead Wrasse to the Hairless Chinese Crested Dog, the Mexican Mole Lizard to the Southern Cassowary. Some are more friendly looking than others, and some look as through they have wandered into the book straight off the set of a science-fiction movie. Others look so playful and cute that they could be the imagination of a young child. I need to give a shout-out to a couple of my personal favourites - the Aye-aye and the Whitemargin Unicornfish.
Author and illustrator Sami Bayly wants the reader to rethink what they see as beautiful and ugly. As the saying goes, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and this book certainly challenges readers perceptions. Bayly is a natural history illustrator and her knowledge and passion for her subject matter is evident throughout the book. 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.
The book is beautiful, it even comes with a fancy gold ribbon page marker. It is a delight from the start - the embossed gold lettering on the cover to the opening contents table and introduction. 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 an ugly animal that perfectly highlights the ‘ugly’ feature, and the opposite page features factual information including a description, conservation status, diet, habitat and fun facts. A shadow illustration of the animal next to a human/human hand provides a great size comparison.
Let’s face it, the guys and girls in this book are not going to be winning any beauty contests any time soon but there is something splendid and marvellous about each and every one of them and the animal kingdom would be a much worse place if they were not around. A very welcome addition to any animal lovers bookshelf.
Recommended for 8+.