If you haven’t already discovered this brilliant series of books, you’ll be delighted to learn that there are three other titles in the series to enjoy besides this one (Islands, Rivers, Treasures.) But for now, we’re diving into the world of Amazing Animals. Make sure you scroll down to read Sabrina’s Q&A about the inspirations behind this book.
Animals come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. From the record breaking tongue of a chameleon to the dashing dance of the peacock spider, you’ll learn about the most amazing examples from air, land and sea. Discover playful dolphins, sleepy koalas and even a fish that keeps its babies safe in its own mouth, uncovering the secrets of their survival, the incredible habitats they call home as well as the environmental threats putting them in danger.
Q&A for Amazing Animals
Q1. Did your love of travel help inspire you to create a book about animals?
Absolutely. I often choose my travel destinations based on the animals I might see there. I was actually in Madagascar when I wrote this book, so naturally, a number of animals from this incredibly diverse island nation make an appearance. More than 80 percent of the animals living in Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth. There are the famous lemurs or the fish-scale gecko, which can shed its scales to escape predators. I have been lucky to see several species of lemur on my travels and to swim with whale sharks, which are seasonal visitors to the small island of Nosy Be off Madagascar.
Lemurs and whale sharks are unfortunately endangered animals. I think it is important for young and old readers to learn about these animals. Hopefully the book will inspire readers to contribute to their protection or plan a trip to see them with their own eyes.
Q2. Which qualities in the animals you have chosen to feature in the book make them amazing?
Animals have visible differences, but they also behave differently. They feed differently, move in different ways. But what fascinates me most is how animals communicate with each other. This is something we are only beginning to understand.
Chemical signals, like scents, play a big part in this. Ants use them, lemurs use them, snakes use them, but for very different reasons.
Q3. Which of the animals in the book have you encountered in person?
So many! I’ve been really lucky. Diving with manta rays, other sharks and dolphins was very special for me. And watching leopards and jaguars stalking their prey in the early hours of the morning is just fascinating. I love wild cats and would love to see a Canada lynx one day.
I remember learning at school about the differences between African and Asian elephants. Last week, I saw a herd of elephants in Sri Lanka and remembered exactly what the teacher taught us back then. The size of their ears, the shape of their heads and the finger-like features at the end of their trunks – when I saw them up close, I could study the differences in detail.
Q4. Which animals would you love to see in the wild?
I’d love to observe orcas during their hunt. Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and apex predators, meaning they have no natural predators. I’m still in Sri Lanka and will be travelling to an area next month, where the orcas frequent. Wish me luck!
Q5. What research techniques did you have to use?
As a science journalist, I closely follow new studies and discoveries of animal behaviour or new species. It was important to me that the whole geographical spectrum was represented in this book, so I also read books about different habitats to learn about the animals living and thriving there.
Q6. What was your favourite discovery about an animal while researching?
The peacock spider. I was researching animals that live in Australia and came across this brilliantly coloured spider, which dances to attract a mate. I am afraid of spiders and usually avoid them, but now I think I would love to encounter a peacock spider.
Q6. What message would you like readers to take away from the book? In what ways could the book be used in the classroom?
Readers will learn about the unique characteristics and behaviours of different animals and how they have adapted to survive in their habitats. But in the natural world, these animals are not on their own; different species interact with each other, tolerate each other, and sometimes even benefit from each other. They share a home, and we share that home with them.
Q7. And finally, if you had to be one amazing animal featured in the book, which animal would it be??
A humpback whale, no question. Imagine what you get to see when migrating thousands of kilometres from Antarctica to Mozambique. When I was in Mozambique, I used to watch the whales breaching. They probably jumped out of the water to produce a sound and communicate with other whales, or to shake off pesky parasites. But it sure looked like a lot of fun.
AMAZING ANIMALS is written by Sabrina Weiss (@sabrinamweiss) and illustrated by Paul Daviz (@daviz_industries) out now in hardback (£14.99, What on Earth Books)
As I would expect from a title in this series, the pages are full of creatures and facts which I haven’t encountered before. I love the fresh take on categorising creatures: record setters, stinky creatures, super mums & amazing dads etcetera. Such interestingly-named categories are sure to entice young readers to dip in and explore.
The illustrations are beautiful too – vibrant, colourful, and teeming with life. They’re full of details and textures which young naturalists will enjoy studying alongside the text. I particularly liked the texture of the octopuses and the gorgeous colours of the web-footed gecko.
The large fold-out world map in the centre of the book and vertical drop down layouts of a leaf-cutter ants’ nest and map of epic migrations add an extra layer of interest and encourage interaction with the book.
Sure to be a hit with readers aged 7+
*Many thanks to What On Earth Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*