It’s Time to Rethink Pink: Two Books about the Ugliest Animal on Earth

BookendsPink is for Blobfish by Jess KeatingCindy: Somehow, I missed the 2013 announcement that the blobfish is officially the ugliest animal on the earth, as judged by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. Somebody was paying attention, though, as we’ve seen the pink, blobby guy popping up in children’s books this season. In zoologist Jess Keating’s Pink is for Blobfish (2016), the titular critter is only the first of many pink creatures filling out this volume from the World of Weird Animals series—also represented are the pinktoe tarantula, pygmy seahorse, pink fairy armadillo, hairy squat lobster, and one of my personal favorites, the roseate spoonbill.

The blobfish is found in the deep waters surrounding Australia and New Zealand, and is unfortunately endangered due to the ocean-floor netting that scoops up these guys along with shrimp and other fish. They may be considered ugly, but they’re ugly in a cute kind of way, and I hope they survive. Each double-page spread features a photo of the strange, pink animal animal in question; a description; and a fun fact with a cartoon drawing. A sidebar lists each one’s scientific name, size, diet, habitat, predators, and threats to survival. It’s a colorful, informative, and fun package that closes with a helpful map, a glossary, a list of online resources, and a sampling of animal-related scientist fields of study.

As Keating suggests in her official book trailer above, it’s time to rethink pink.

The Blobfish Book by Jessica OlienLynn: Did the Ugly Animal Preservation Society consider how the blobfish would feel after being named the Ugliest Animal in the World? I think not! Fortunately, we have a first-hand view from the blobfish himself in Jessica Olien’s The Blobfish Book (2016). This appealing picture book starts out by describing the denizens of the deepest parts of the sea, with gorgeous photographs and information about them. Interesting, right? Then the much-maligned blobfish steps into the pages of this picture book to put himself front and center. The pink and—let’s be honest, blobby—blobfish adds commentary of his own and sets the record straight.

Young readers will soak up interesting facts about deep-sea creatures but their hearts and smiles will be won by the blobfish. Mixed with a generous helping of humor, Olien provides plenty of facts about both him and his companions, as well as extensive back matter that includes a cast of characters from the deep sea, more fascinating facts, and additional sources. Despite its strange appearance, the blobfish is the star of the show!

Cindy: If you still don’t have enough blobfish, you can apparently knit or crochet or model one in clay—the internet has everything! Lynn says blobfish reminds her of Kilroy, and I agree, but CNN was on to something when they referred to him in the announcement linked above as a “cross between the cartoon character Ziggy and an anemic lump of jelly.”



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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