Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals (ages 6+)
By: Charles Ghigna & The Animal Planet Author
Animal Planet Publications (October 2016)
Many kids (and quite a few adults as well) cannot resist a sign that says 'wet paint'. The newest addition to the Animal Planet book series, 'Strange, Unusual,Gross and Cool Animals' by Charles Ghigna succeeds in using the same effect with its title. You are inevitably drawn to find out if the 'Gross' ones do actually 'gross you out'; in the same way, you are curious to find out what is actually so 'strange' and 'unusual' about the members of those two categories - even more so than about the cool ones, in my opinion. So why, if so, are they 'Strange, Unusual, Gross or Cool?' This book attempts to answer this question through the use of detailed high resolution photographs, annotated extensively to describe the unique features of the animals.
The book is divided into four separate sections -strange, unusual, gross and cool. All sections follow an identical format: There is a 'gallery', which contains photos and short descriptions and provides similarities between the illustrated animals who are from different locations around the world. Next we have the 'Featured Creatures' which highlight one animal at a time in double page spreads. Annotations on the 'Featured Creature' photos highllght the interesting features and how these help the creature to adapt to its chosen environment; there are also details (called 'Creature Features') of the animal's diet, habitat, geographical location (shown as a point on an image of the earth) and more. The next sub-section within each main section is the creature collection spread which has a large collection of animals where you can compare and contrast the unusual features. And finally we have -the 'Macroview' which are zoomed in views of very small animals that fit into each main category.
Looking through the images and the descriptions was fascinating, even for an adult. I really liked the annotations within the pictures that pointed out the special features. This helps tremendously, especially for the kids, to realize the need for these 'odd' appendages and behavioral habits in the context of the creatures' habitats. I also like that at the start of each section, be it strange or gross, the Author has added a pair of rhyming verses that state in different ways -but still essentially with the same idea- that being judgmental
of these creatures' appearances is not very wise. The opening verses in the 'Strange' section best exemplify this to me:
'Strange how we as humans,
View Creatures great and small-
But we who see their strangeness
Are the strangest ones of all!'
Overall, the book is a visual treat packed with information that young animal lovers will be very eager to devour, and then to pour over time and again with their friends, and even their parents. As they laugh and stare open-mouthed at the extra heads, the extraordinary mimicking abilities and other tricks of survival of these fascinating living things quite possibly, all these unique creatures will find themselves in the 'Cool' category, in the little ones' minds!
( With Many thanks to Animal Planet and NetGally for the ARC )