Any book with a ‘shout out’ on the cover warning ‘this book contains farting fish’ is sure to be a hit with children (probably quite a few adults too!). The title ensures the reader is drawn in to the book as we all love reading about animal antics – certainly judging by the popularity of mischievous creatures on social media sites.
Nicola Davies has a chatty, discursive style and the book is arranged in an easy layout with 6 chapters about specific animals. The introduction lays down several clear themes that run throughout the book. The messages revolve around animals being incredibly clever, adaptable and pretty amazing altogether. However, the book also highlights the plight of these animals who share the planet with us and points out that the human race is contributing to the demise of many of those species. The author makes a strong argument that will, I’m sure resonate with many children, it is really humans who behave in a bad way – animals are merely trying to find the best way to survive today.
So once that scene is set we are off on a tour of some of the canniest animals of the animal kingdom. There are lots of great facts in the book such as a male wolverine climbing a 3,190 metre sheer rock face in a blizzard or sperm whales learning how to steal their favourite black cod from fishing boats.
The illustrations by Adam Stower are placed well throughout the book with not only scientific diagrams of the animals but also interspersed with funny cartoons of those farty fish and pesky macaques. This is a great read for all those children who love animal antics but also a good example of a funny, enticing non-fiction book which nonetheless conveys an important, powerful message for us not so clever humans today.