How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-24515-7
Who better than a husband and wife team to spotlight intriguing partnerships in nature? Among the many relationships Jenkins and Page (How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?) explore is that of the upside-down jellyfish and the crab it lives upon. “The jellyfish’s stinging tentacles provide protection in return for crab meal leftovers.” Jenkins’s meticulous cut-paper illustrations, as eye-catching as ever, reveal fascinating stories of animal symbiosis on each page. The paneled layout—graphic novel style—offers a dynamic format for these concise, present-tense stories of mutualism, complete with catchy titles. “Dinner is served” reads the spread about a seagull and a sunfish (the massive sunfish attracts the seagull with its fin, and in turn the bird eats parasites living on the fish). Closeups, aerial views, and vignettes of animals realistically rendered in Jenkins’s trademark collage have a cinematic quality. An author note about the different types of symbiotic relationships, as well as appended pages detailing each animal’s size, habitat, and diet, reinforce the book’s value as a scientific introduction to the topic. Ages 6–9. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
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