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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

by Seymour Simon


Simon, Seymour. ANIMALS THAT NOBODY LOVES. New York: SeaStar Books, North-South Books, Inc., 2001. ISBN 1587170795.


This photo essay reveals the truth about some of the most unloved creatures on earth, from cockroaches and fire ants to crocodiles and great white sharks.


The photos in this fascinating book are definitely not for the faint of heart. A cobra, hood spread, is poised to strike at those who view the contents page, and vultures and hyenas  feed on the carcasses of dead animals on other pages. But these vivid, provocative photos will certainly draw readers to this book, as will the unusual subject matter. The title, ANIMALS THAT NOBODY LOVES, is an accurate description of the creatures found within. If this weren’t enticing enough, Seymour Simon draws the reader further into the book in his introduction by asking, “Did you know that one blow of a grizzly bear can crush the skull of an elk? That a small fish called a piranha can be more dangerous than a shark?” (p.7) These elements definitely capture the reader's attention.


Following the introduction, each of the twenty unlovable animals is presented on a two-page spread. At least one of these pages is covered entirely by a photo of the featured beast. The other page holds easy-to read text full of interesting facts, like, “A headless cockroach can live for as long as a week.” (p. 30) The writing is clear and easy to understand, but does not “talk down” to the reader. The contents page lists each animal, along with its page number so that readers can browse through the content in any order they  choose. Because each creature is presented in one page of text, the book can be read in several small sessions, and would make a fun read-aloud book in class.


In the introduction to this book, Seymour Simon states that one purpose of this book is to help the reader understand and respect these animals for what they are. As each animal is discussed, he addresses some of the unlovable traits, and in some cases, misconceptions about them. At the conclusion of the book, he poses some questions which encourage critical thinking like, “Do you feel any differently about the animals in this book now that you know more about them?” (p. 48) and challenges the reader to create his own list of unlovable animals. This could lead to a fun class activity where everyone contributes to an extended list of unlovable animals.


With its attractive design, unusual subject matter, and compelling details, this is truly an informational book which will capture the interest of young readers.