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BOOK REVIEW: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature by Sami Bayly

| 28 September 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature by Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s Books
September 2021
Hardcover, $32.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Reader Encyclopaedia / Non-Fiction / Animal Art / Natural History

85% Rocking

Come along for another fresh take on the animal kingdom from bestselling author and illustrator, Sami Bayly.

Discover 60 of the most peculiar pairs in nature and learn how plant and animal species rely on each other for their survival.

Whether it be a rare tick living in the fur of a pygmy possum, a stick insect feasting and hiding out amongst the Melaleuca or a handfish laying its eggs on a sea tulip, incredible natural relationships deserve to be explored and celebrated. Investigating all types of relationships, from symbiotic to parasitic, this is an eye-opening guide to the natural world.

Many species steer clear of those who are different, but the animals and plants in this book have evolved to form relationships with some of the most unlikely partners, and they couldn’t live without them.

This gorgeous hardcover book is illustrated in exquisite detail by award-winning author and illustrator, Sami Bayly. The perfect companion to The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of UglyAnimals and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals.



If you’ve read one of Bayly’s books before, you know you’re in for a good read, and are about to learn a lot of interesting animal facts and see some amazing animal illustrations. If you haven’t… what better place to start than by learning about the strange ways in which plants and animals have evolved relationships that fall into three categories:

Mutualism: Both sides of the partnership benefits from their relationship.

Commensalism: Only one side of the partnership benefits from their relationship, while the other is unaffected.

Parasitism: One side of the partnership benefits and the other is negatively affected.

With further qualifying factors within each of these groups:

Obligate Mutualism: The pair cannot survive without one another.

Faculative Mutualism: Each side of the partnership can survive on their own, but it is more beneficial for the pair to stay together.

Inquilinism Commensalism: One side of the partnership permanently lives on the other.

Phoresy Commensalism: One side of the partnership uses the other side as a means of transportation.

Müllerian Mimicry: One side of the partnership evolves to look like a toxic or foul tasting creature of plant, allowing them to survive without being lethal themselves.

Predation: One side of the partnership preys upon and kills the other side, usually as a key food source in their diet.

There are bound to be facts here for all kinds of readers, including some information that casts a certain holiday tradition in a new light.

Mistletoes were named after the way their seeds are dispersed (through the bird’s poo). The Old English word was ‘mistletan’, with ‘mistel’ meaning dung and ‘tan’ meaning twig, essentially translating to ‘poop on a stick’.

Sami Bayly has delivered another gorgeous book full of wonderful illustrations, this time of some of the most unusual pairs in nature. 

This is a great book for anyone who loves weird and wonderful facts about animals, no matter their age. Unless you’ve specifically done research on these 60 weird and wonderful pairs, you’re bound to learn something new about the natural world, evolution, collective nouns, conservation status, and more!


Category: Book Reviews

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