Animal Super Powers: The Most Amazing Ways Animals Have Evolved

Nick Crumpton, illustrated by Viola Wang
Walker Studio, £15.00

As mum to a science-mad 10-year-old, finding books pitched at the right level that manage to hold her attention can be challenging, but the moment we picked up this strikingly colourful, animal-filled book my daughter was hooked. Animal Super Powers drills down to the really interesting bits of animal evolution.

Never mind the cute and cuddly – Nick Crumpton takes a Horrible Histories-style approach to the natural world, wowing children with the juicy bits. Rather than examining every part of an animal in detail, he looks at one specific evolutionary adaptation and explains how and why it has benefitted a given species.

There’s a whole section dedicated to drinking blood and another on creatures that eat dead animals, which is packed with fascinating facts (who knew that Old World vultures have a role in protecting other animals by eating carcasses that contain dangerous bacteria?).

The section on how different creatures’ eyes have adapted to help them was a particular favourite for my daughter, who was fascinated by insects’ ommatidia, which enable them to see in almost every direction at once.

The detail Crumpton goes into is pitched brilliantly – all too often children’s reference books leave them (and their parents) with more questions than answers. But the what, how and why are all covered with snappy, bite-sized text that is memorable for kids. Vibrant and detailed pictures are the perfect accompaniment, making the book ideal for KS2 children starting to learn about evolution – and their parents and teachers will likely enjoy it too.

Rachel Duffield