Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Amazing Animal Friendships: Odd Couples in Nature

Amazing Animal Friendships: Odd Couples in Nature

Pavla Hanackova
Illustrator:  Linh Dao 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Salariya, 2017   ISBN: 978-1912006489

There is no doubt that in nature animal and plant species invest a great deal of effort in finding ways to survive. This often means that they are in competition with other living things that inhabit their environment. It’s an eat or be eaten world after all.

There are instances, however, when animals and plants find ways to form partnerships that are mutually beneficial. These partnerships come in many forms. Some of these relationships are loose, while others are so close that the species involved cannot survive if their association is severed.

Zebras and oxpeckers share a relationship that is relatively loose. Like all wild animals, zebras have problems with skin parasites, and they turn to a bird species to get help removing the pests from their fur. Oxpeckers stay close to the zebra herds so that they can be on hand to take care of the zebras whenever they are needed. Thanks to the oxpeckers, the zebras get parasite free skin, and thanks to the zebras the oxpeckers get some tasty snacks to eat.

Hippos get similar help from fish, who clean the hippos skin underwater, removing algae, parasites, and dead skin - getting an easy meal in the process.

At the other end of the relationship spectrum are bees and flowers. In this case the bees, and the flower species that they collect pollen from, literally cannot survive without each other. The flowers would not be able to reproduce, and the bees would not be able to make their honey and they would starve. There are, of course, other pollinators; there are other insect species, bats, birds, and small mammals, but bees are big players in the pollinator world.

In this delightful book young readers will find out about a wide array of interspecies relationships, some of which they will have heard of and some of which will be new to them. Some of the associations they will read about are downright bizarre and quite fascinating. Others take place between species that you would imagine would eat each other, which is also very interesting.

Packed with wonderful illustrations and thought-provoking facts about animals and plants, this picture book will appeal to both children and adults who have an interest in nature.