Book Review: The Not Bad Animals

The Not Bad Animals, by Sophie Corrigan

There are a great many animals that get a bad name for one reason or another and that are easy to hate or fear for many people. This book is an attempt, in a light-hearted and humorous way, to show both the sorts of fears and hatred that people have of animals as well as a cuter or more-positive side of the animals that deserve to be taken into account as well when thinking about animals. Now, my favorite animal of all time (the skunk [1]) is included in this book, but as someone who loves skunks I already knew the case for why they should be liked a lot more and feared a lot less. What was a revelation to me was the thoroughness of the author’s discussion of other animals that I have a less fond of opinion of but which it might be worth reconsidering my hostility towards them (such as slugs and opossums, also included here). And any book that can humorously and lightheartedly encourage people to re-think their assumptions and thoughts and beliefs about certain animals is certainly a worthwhile one in my book. An appreciation of God’s creation and an understanding of the purposes thereof often tends to go together, at least in my view.

This book is a bit more than 150 pages and consists of well-illustrated accounts of a variety of animals, where the first two pages show the negative view that people have of these animals, which frequently involves their smell or lifestyle or supposed ugliness and creepiness or violent and bloodthirsty nature, and where the last two pages, colored in brighter and happier colors with the animals portrayed as invariably cute and adorable, shows the more positive side of animals that people do not keep in mind. This pattern is a consistent one, and before the glossary, the author has tackled with considerable skill the following animals that deserve to be thought of more positively: the spider, black cat, vampire bat, sharks, hyena, skunk, vulture, rat, wasp snake, wolf, ant, house mouse, moth, fox, toad, bull, weasel, corodile, pigeon, camel, scorpion, creepy birds (raven/crow), killer whale, jellyfish, dung beetle, centipede, slug, anglerfish, opossum, scary dogs, earthworm, komodo dragon, pig, squid, seagull, snapping turtle, and tasmanian devil. The end result of this book is a lot of material to think about regarding animals that people tend to hate.

One of the ways in which this book stands out is the art. There is a deliberate shift in many of the portrayals of animals from being as creepy as possible to being downright cute. This is especially noticeable in animals like bats, hyenas, and vultures that we might not associate as being cute, and the portrayal of such animals as cute is part of the author’s strategy of making them less reprehensible and less hateful in the eyes of readers. Whether or not this strategy will work or not is unclear to me personally, but the attempt is certainly noble and worthy of praise, at least from this reader. If the author and illustrator of this work is successful in encouraging the reader to have a kinder and sweeter and cuter mental image of animals while also having a realistic appraisal of their behavior in cases where some respect and space must be given–crocodiles, poisonous snakes, skunks, and the like–then it will be a successful book in that it may encourage keeping animals alive and letting them live while enjoying the benefits that they provide to us that we may sometimes take for granted in our hatred and disregard of them.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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