Predators by Steve Backshall

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Predators by Steve Backshall

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A handsomely produced rehash of Deadly 60 material, with a high browse factor which will fascinate children interested in wildlife. Although it doesn't add much to the material covered by the BBC series, it is a good summary and reminder, an ideal equivalent of a coffee table book for kids.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 96 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Orion
External links: [www.stevebackshall.com/ Author's website]
ISBN: 9781444004175

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Many readers would probably know that on the simple count of humans they helped to dispatch, mosquitoes may be the most deadly animals ever. But did you know that if you take into account the success rate of hunts, diversity and spread, ladybirds are more successful predators than tigers?

Self-confessed bugs-and-reptiles obsessive, Steve Backshall, shared his fascination and love for predators large and small with audiences of enthralled children and adults in the BBC's Deadly 60 and Alive and Deadly and now it all comes to you in a book.

The world's most lethal animals are grouped according to qualities that make them into successful hunters: senses, speed, venom, intelligence, power and more. Each double-spread of the glossy 90 or so pages is devoted to one creature or one type of animal and contains pictures, diagrams, factoids and a personal account of Backshall's experience with the animal.

The language is dynamic and colloquial without being dumbed down, and Backshall's enthusiasm for his subjects oozes – or should I say leaps – at the reader from the pages. He himself features heavily but without overkill. Predators remains a book about animals and doesn't turn into a book about Steve Backshall. The story-boxes recounting his personal experiences were, in fact, mentioned by my 10 year old as one of the big assets of Predators.

Talking of whom, she has been dipping into Predators for the last couple of days and judged it a book for kids who like animals but are not allowed a television. She felt that there was a significant overlap between the programming and the book and although Predators is not quite a carbon-copy book-of-the-TV series, it clearly is a tie-in.

Although I am not a target audience for Predators, I enjoyed browsing through it. It reminded me of similar books I read as a child, although the ones I read had much more text and much less visual material. More than half of Predators are visuals, including photographs, drawings and diagrams. Many are very informative, some are just pretty (or not so pretty in case of many of the creatures) pictures. I would like to see proportionally a bit more text and a bit less imagery, but then I am not an eight-year-old.

Predators is a pretty decent TV-tie-in and would work well as a gift for a child interested in animals, probably even ones that are allowed a television. I liked the focus on adaptation, as it helps to develop evolutionary mindset when thinking about the natural world. The bite-sized chunks of information make it suitable for even the younger primary-aged kids, though those would obviously need adult help reading it. Older than 10-11 and you would probably want something with a bit more meat.

It is handsomely produced, with a high browse factor and although it doesn't add much to the material covered by the BBC series, it is a good summary and reminder, an ideal equivalent of a coffee table book for kids. Even the full cover price is pretty reasonable (though one needs to remember it's under 100 pages) and at Amazon's half-price it becomes a bargain.

Recommended.

It's fascinating how many carnivorous idioms our language contains. While writing this review I had to ruthlessly cull many phrases to avoid a pun-overkill, but quite a few still remain at large. Backshall has a convincing evolutionary argument for humanity's somewhat obsessive interest in predators, but it can also be argued that the Homo Sapiens is the most successful predator of all and we tend to see ourselves in the creatures hunting around us, with us, in competition with us and sometimes for us.

Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? by Mick O'Hare is an excellent book of animal-related factoids.for older children and adults. Science: Sorted! Evolution, Nature and Stuff by Glenn Murphy is an intro to natural sciences for tweens and teens. Younger 'uns with a dinosaur fixation will like Dinosaurs (Henry's House) by Philip Ardagh and Mike Gordon.

Buy Predators by Steve Backshall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Predators by Steve Backshall at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Predators by Steve Backshall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Predators by Steve Backshall at Amazon.com.


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