Litercurious Book Review

TitleA Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures:
An Illustrated Encyclopedia
AuthorSami Bayly
PublisherThe Experiment (October 27, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover
Page 128
GenreChildren’s Non-Fiction, Animals, Children’s Zoology


Sami Bayly is a natural history illustrator based in Newcastle. She loves all things, weird and wonderful. She finds the beauty and importance of all animals regardless of their appearance, and hopes to share her appreciation with others.

Sami’s first book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, won the Children’s Indie Book of the Year Award. It was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award, the ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children, and the Australian Book Design Awards. It was longlisted for the ABA Booksellers’ Choice 2020 Book of the Year Awards.


Weird and wonderfully strange creatures are presented on a double page spread per subject. Utilizing an infographic style, the page layout includes a one-page description and a page covering the particulars of each creature; such as: where they live, what they eat, their conservation status and fun facts.

The key illustrations are large, colorful and life-like. In addition, there are pen and ink sketches depicting the creature in focus from different perspectives. There are also infographics depicting an average sized man next to each creature to allow the viewer to establish scale. All of these descriptive annotations are displayed on a velum colored background.

There are 61 examples of curious creatures continued within the 128 pages. What follows are a few examples of the fascinating animals, fish, birds and invertebrates that you can find in Bayly’s enchanting work:

RETICULATED STARGAZER – Dactyloscopus Foraminosus Blanchardi

This diminutive fish is literally nightmare fuel. The Reticulated Stargazer projects a terrifying countenance enhanced by the full page color image. With large eyes protruding from the top if its head as it languishes half-buried in sand and a mouth full of sharp dirty teeth; the thought of an encounter with this mini monster is sobering. At only three inches long, it blends skillfully into the environment. This is quite alarming when you realize that this tiny terror can deliver a shock of 50 volts from between its eyes. If electrocution isn’t bad enough, it can inject you with venom from two spines on its back. If all this were not disgusting enough, the Reticulated Stargazer has the propensity to burp back the scales of it’s last meal.

Consider for a moment that these were the fun facts about this fish.

SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD – Neoclinus Blanchardi

Looking like an off-world monster with a disarticulated hinged jaw, the Sarcastic Fringehead is a vision from a horror movie. So violent it attacks fishermen, who as a result avoid them like the plague. They enjoy the luxury of having few natural threats, and it is thought that this is partially the reason for their aggression. Fortunately, these omnivores are deep sea fish who consume squid, plankton, crustaceans, and small fish. Their habitat is off the Coast of California and Mexico, 195 feet down in the depths.

TARDIGRADE – Tardigrada

Tardigrade are better known as the Water Bear. They are invertebrates that live three months to two and a half years. However, if they become dormant, they can last as long aa thirty years in stasis. Some are hermaphroditic; also known as intersex, while others can clone themselves. Tardigrade’s can survive in temperature extremes as well as being capable of cryptobiosis. They are cannibalistic and can also use tubes to suck juices from moss, algae, and bacteria. They are survivors and have been around for over 500 million years.

These are just a few of the 61 animals depicted. You might find: The Aye-Aye, the Hairless Chinese Crested Dog, The Blob Fish, The Purple Pig-Nosed Frog or the Naked Mole Rat just as interesting. 


A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures is a fascinating, entertaining and fun journey through the world of strange, exotic and captivating animals. It is packed full of interesting knowledge about the private lives of the most bizarre wildlife. A perfect excursion for children wanting to discover the fringe world of fantastic and unique critters.

In my opinion children would enjoy this publication. It is containing scientifically based information set in easy digestible chunks for young, hungry minds. I feel assured that A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures would stimulate and entertain but more importantly that it will encourage further research. When learning is fun children are driven to want to learn more and this is the true strength of Bayly’s scintillating work. It is simply a joy to the eye and the mind equally.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Sami Bayly, NetGalley and The Experiment for affording me the opportunity to review A Curious Collection of Peculiar Creatures.


Q: What do sea monsters eat?

A: Fish and ships.