The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals


Sami Bayly, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, Lothian Children’s Books, September 2019, 128 pp., RRP $32.99 (hbk) ISBN 9780734419019

From Amazon River Dolphin to Wild Turkey, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals by Sami Bayly is a cornucopia of weird and wonderful animals.

The encyclopedia provides excellent factual information about each animal including, their conservation status, diet, location/habitat and close relations. There are beautiful scientific illustration of each animal that leave the reader in no doubt as to why they were chosen for a book about ugly animals. Fun facts are provided about each animal. For example, did you know that the larger a Black Musselcracker (fish) grows the more human-like its face looks?

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals is Sami Bayly’s first book. Her presentation of these animals allows the reader to see their endearing and quirky side and her obvious affection for the subject matter. Her book sparks curiosity and concern for these ‘ugly’ beauties.

If you or your young children or students love books about animals and animal facts, this is a must for your collection.

Reviewed by Anne Varnes

Our reviewer Anne asked Sami to tell us more about these ugly animals:

We would be curious to know what the criteria were for choosing the ugly animals. Were there any animals that you wanted to include but they weren’t ‘ugly’ enough? Which was your favourite ugly animal?

It was certainly a difficult process to find 60 animals which majority of people agreed fit the “ugly” description, so in choosing the creatures, I tried to stick to a few categories: asymmetrical or disproportion features, unfamiliar or unpleasant textures, bland colours and baldness, all of which are common aspects in animals that the public view as aesthetically displeasing.

There were certainly many more species I wished to include (I could make a whole book based purely on ugly birds, like the wide variety of vulture species), but it was certainly in my mind that I needed to keep the book diverse and packed with a range of animals. I believed that this was the perfect opportunity to share some of the more unheard-of creatures with the world, such as the sarcastic fringe head or gelada, that are nowhere near as frequently spoken about as species like the blobfish or Australian white ibis.

Although I have a soft spot for all my “uglies”, I do have to say that my favourite of the 60 is the marabou stork, with its magnificent long beak, featherless, pink head and wrinkly neck pouch. It has some of the most incredible features that only a mother could love.

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