‘Everyday millions of creatures are locked in a battle for survival …’
This large format book, organised in 46 sections, explores the different strategies creatures use to avoid death. Young readers are asked which of the creatures they think deserves the Oscar for its survival tactics. There is plenty of competition. Fascinating stories are told in this book: cats that fall from high buildings without harm, dogs assumed to be drowned but found months later in good shape, and pigs who escape from abattoirs. Then there are animals that fake death to stay alive because big meat eaters and smaller creatures – some spiders for example – prefer moving prey. The ‘long living legends’ include Harriet, a Galapagos tortoise collected by Charles Darwin in 1835, who ended her days in Australia aged 175 years.
The lively double spreads are excitingly multi-modal. Blocks of information in different sizes and kinds of print, annotated diagrams and speech bubbles add to the appeal for young readers of the digital age. The witty illustrations have a distinctive firm line and the pages are alive with colour. Humour brings a light touch to text and illustration but there is sound science input here. Readers come to understand that some creatures survive because they have instinctive life preserving techniques, others use their heads and some just get lucky. Which animal would receive my Oscar nomination? I agree with the author that the star is the hognose snake because it can choose whether or not to act dead, unlike other creatures ‘which have no control over their acting ability’. There is a good index and glossary, and a quiz to help young readers assess how much they have learnt.