Bibi’s Bizarre Beastie Book
Bibi Dumon Tak is mad about animals. Whether it’s animals with two, four or a thousand legs, Bibi wants to know all about them. This love for animals formed the starting point for her steadily growing oeuvre, which consists mainly of non-fiction titles. In Bibi’s bijzondere beestenboek, the author has turned her knowledge into forty appealing portraits of animals.
Whilst in her previous work she often focused on the cow, this time she went for animals that are much more exotic. The coelacanth, the bonobo, the silverfish and the Jesus Christ lizard – in Bibi’s bijzondere beestenboek the whole gang trots past in a colourful procession.
And Dumon Tak just keeps on surprising her readers with extraordinary facts. About the thermometer bird, for example, who uses her bill as a thermometer to measure the temperature of the nest. Or the bombardier beetle, who pelts his enemy with poison bombs. And the army ant, about whom everything is big: himself, his family and his appetite.
Dumon Tak constantly plays with the border between fiction and non-fiction. Her fascinating facts about beasties are described in a style that’s positively fizzing and popping with the fun of storytelling. Sometimes her writing flows in a chatty style that’s familiar to kids: ‘Pleased to meet you: the arctic fox, soft on the outside, cool on the inside.’ Sometimes she tells a touching tale, as in her account of the Djungarian dwarf hamster, where the male acts as a trusted and dedicated midwife during childbirth. And she gives her readers an amusing tip about cockroaches: ‘Would you like to see one? Then don’t do the dishes for a while. But if you never want to see a cockroach, just buy a one-way ticket to Iceland.’
By Joukje Akveld