Picture Book Snob
This vibrant book sheds light on some of nature's enigmas
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark by Zoë Armstrong and Anja Sušanj, Flying Eye Books
"Our towns, cities and motorways glitter with electric light. Light that helps us to see, light that grabs attention and light that warns of danger. But humans use clunky equipment and the Earth’s resources to do what some extraordinary animals have evolved to do all by themselves.
In nooks and crannies and under the sea, there are creatures that make their own light and use it just like us. Curious creatures that really do glow in the dark…"
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark explains bioluminescence and biofluorescence and shows how different land and marine animals either make or borrow light, and why. We learn how this light can be a means of communication, help creatures attract mates, find food, frighten predators, and stand out or hide. In addition to this, we find out how humans have harnessed bioluminescence throughout history, and discover how scientists are now using it to shape the future.
So, what’s the difference between biofluorescence and bioluminescence? Bioluminescent animals make light from chemical reactions within their bodies; biofluorescent creatures absorb invisible ultraviolet rays from the sun and the moon. Did you know that it’s not just ocean creatures who glow in the dark? Some earthworms ooze bioluminescent slime, while the biofluorescence of scorpions, owls, chameleons, tree frogs, flying squirrels, owls, platypuses and puffins glows under ultraviolet light. Several species of fungi glow in the dark, then of course there are bioluminescent glowworms and more than 2,000 species of fireflies too!
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark features lots of strange and wonderful creatures including giant squids, cookiecutter sharks and my one of my favourite underwater weirdos, the anglerfish (who even gets a double-page spread). I have even discovered a new hero: the Atolla jellyfish who flashes when attacked which attracts bigger predators to come and eat its attacker! There are also cute pufflings and gentle giants like the hawksbill sea turtles.
It would be impossible to summarise everything we’ve learned as this book is brimming with information. Here are just a few facts that I found both surprising and incredibly interesting:
Only about 5% of the ocean has been explored by humans
More than three-quarters of sea-creatures glow in the dark. Instead of using colour to express themselves, they use light.
The twilight zone is the open water between 200 meters and 1,000 meters deep. Little sunlight reaches this far, but it’s one of the earth’s most biodiverse living spaces.
Moonlight is actually sunlight bouncing off the moon and contains ultraviolet light too.
Nocturnal animals see colours and light that human eyes can’t detect, and their world looks a little different to ours.
Biofluorescence is still quite mysterious, almost like a language that humans don't yet understand. Scientists have only recently become aware that a variety of creatures have been glowing in secret all along.
Botanists in Austria, Russia and the UK have made glowing plants using genes from bioluminescent mushrooms which could one day be used as energy-saving lamps. Scientists in Denmark are trying to create glow-in-the-dark trees which might one day replace streetlights!
Not only do Atlantic puffins have biofluorescent beaks, scientists have made tiny sunglasses for the puffins to shield their eyes !
This book is incredibly striking, with an attractive design as well as gorgeous illustrations. I love the texture of the cover and how some of the lettering and patterns are in relief. It’s printed on tactile, matte paper with an eye-catching colour palette which enhances its charming, retro quality. I don’t know if it’s deliberate, but how this looks, feels and even smells recalls books from my own childhood. It’s brilliant how the endpapers have sea creatures by day at the front, and then show the same scene transformed by night at the back.
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark is a spectacular illumination of our fascinating world. It is beautifully written and often quite lyrical and moving, which is not something I expected from a fact book. If you are looking for a lasting gift for children who are more interested in science and nature than fiction, this is ideal. It’s a fantastic classroom resource which is certain to inspire lots more learning through related crafts and activities. This vibrant book sheds light on some of nature’s most intriguing enigmas, and is compelling reading for grown-ups as well as children.
About the author: Zoë Armstrong grew up in Oxford and Paris, where she spent a lot of time drawing, making pancakes and riding around on my bike (not all at once). Zoë loved the books of Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel and Judith Kerr – those that told stories with pictures as well as words. She still does, which is why she eventually became a children’s author. Along the way, Zoë has worked as an ice cream seller, a journalist and as a publicity person for an animal charity.
She likes to make books about real life and books that come from her imagination. One of her favourite things is seeing how illustrators interpret her words in beautiful and unexpected ways. Zoë's days are typically spent writing in a café, the library or at home in Brighton, where she lives with her little girl and their grey-and-white cat, Dora.
About the illustrator: Anja Sušanj was born in Croatia in the small industrial city of Rijeka. Her life has always been connected to the sea, both due to its proximity but also intrinsically. Anja was jumping off her late grandad’s small wooden boat when she was only three years old and was dubbed 'Little Fish' in the process; a nickname that stuck. After studying animation in Zagreb, Anja moved to London for a few years. She recently returned to Croatia after gaining her MA in illustration from the University of the Arts London. Anja’s been part of creative collective Kombinat since 2013 and has done many local projects with them. As well as running her own illustration and concept development studio, The Drawing Fish, Anja is a visiting practitioner at the Academy of Applied Arts, Rijeka.
Curious Creatures Glowing in the Dark was published by Flying Eye Books on 3rd August 2021 - see this book on the publisher's website A huge thank you to the lovely people in Flying Eye Books for sharing this stunning book with us - all opinions expressed are our own. #ZoëArmstrong #AnjaSušanj #CuriousCreatures #FlyingEyeBooks #publishedin2021 #earthday2022 Enjoy this content? Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and share with any fellow picture book fans!