What does a water buffalo see in an egret? Why would a badger want a coyote for company? What makes a horse mackerel think he can hang around with a Portugese man-of-war---and live to tell about it? In this fascinating picture book, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page explore these and many other instances of mutualism: the mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships that can be found everywhere in the animal kingdom.
But in addition to the husband and wife team's trademark style of cut paper illustrations and fascinating text, they will also cover new artistic ground. Drawing upon the style of the graphic novel, they will use a series of illustrative frames from different points of view to illuminate just why that water buffalo and egret need each other, exactly how that badger and coyote work together, and the unbelievable manner in which the horse mackeral and man-of-war lend each other a helping hand. Quid pro quo
has never look quite like this!
Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, Authors of How to Clean a Hippopotamus
Dear Amazon Reader,
Robin and I keep a file of animal facts and images that have caught our attention for one reason or another. At some point we realized that we'd accumulated a lot of information about animal symbiosis, and we thought it would be fun to do a book on the subject. We decided to focus on mutualism, a symbiotic relationship in which all the participants benefit. Quite a few children's books have been written about symbiosis. Once we started really researching the subject, however, we found a lot of fascinating relationships that we'd never come across in a children's book. Most of our books about animals have the same basic structure: a portrait and a paragraph or two of explanatory text. In these books a single image represents one moment in time in the life of an animal. But many symbiotic relationships are characterized by a kind of tit-for-tat, back and forth interaction. This suggested a different approach to the subject--one that could show a series of moments in time. We thought that a graphic-novel format would be an interesting way to deal with sequences of images. We also hoped that this approach might appeal to some of those slightly older readers who've left picture books behind and moved on to chapter books. As authors and illustrators, our favorite symbiotic relationship might be the cooperative hunting behavior of the coyote and badger (unfortunately, it often turns out badly for the prairie dogs they hunt). As participants, the human/dog relationship is definitely our favorite. - Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
(Photo © Tim Tucker)
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 3—This book introduces readers to symbiosis, focusing on relationships in which each partner benefits from the collaboration. While readers may be familiar with birds that groom mammals or small fish that clean bigger ones, more unusual pairings include the boxer crab, which can pluck poisonous anemone, use them as lethal pom-poms with which to chase away larger prey, and then return the favor with stray scraps of food dropped from its imprecise claws. The book concludes with a relationship that will be familiar to many readers—that of humans and dogs. It is a nice way to expand the topic into the domestic sphere, as well as highlighting an area in which the relationship between humans and animals is mutually beneficial, and not simply tilted in our favor. Jenkins's trademark collage illustrations continue to impress with their vibrant and stunning manipulation of cut and torn paper. The book is formatted in a block, comic-book style and is written at a level that is accessible to young browsers yet suitable for older researchers. Supplementary information about the size, habitat, and diet of each animal is included in the back matter. This title is another outstanding offering from this extraordinarily talented, wonderfully symbiotic couple.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
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