An invitation to consider the title question through descriptions of 17 animals with monstrous features or habits.
Keating and DeGrand follow up Pink Is for Blobfish (2016) with another collection from the world of weird animals. Here they look at a wide variety of species, including human beings. Examples stretch broadly across the animal kingdom, even including brain-controlling fungi and the animal cooperative that makes up the organism known as the Portuguese man-of-war. Not all are obviously scary; the “sweet little prairie dog” is included as its fleas can carry bubonic plague. Each example is presented on a garishly colored double-page spread and illustrated with both a photograph and a cartoon. In the case of the secretive aye-aye, the images obscure or mis-illustrate its most salient feature, the elongated, rotator-jointed and claw-tipped middle finger on both “hands” that allows the aye-aye to probe inside a tree for grubs. Each spread offers a headline, one paragraph of description, a second with a curious fact, and a sidebar with proper and Latin names, size, diet, habitat, and predators and threats. A final spread connects famous monsters with some of these creatures but also asks readers to consider what they find frightening, whether the animal’s monstrous trait helps its survival, and whether they see human similarities.
Lurid design detracts from the helpful message that even ugly, scary animals deserve protection. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 7-10)