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Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  360 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Spiders are creepy. Porcupines are scary. Bats are ugly.

Or are they . . . ?

This captivating book invites you to look beyond your first impressions at these awe-inspiring animals in the wild. After all, it’s best not to judge a beast until you understand its full, lovely life.
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  360 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
A very simple book about the fact that what appears to be true may not be the whole truth. For instance, gorillas seem (and surely can be) fierce, but they can also be incredibly gentle, and good and loving parents. They can really take care of each other! Spiders may be creepy-looking, to most, but they are also obviously amazing in their web art! This book is all about animals, but hey, do you think this principle of looking again at someone you assume is only one thing could be applied to hum ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful children's books I've ever read! Not only are the illustrations finely drawn (in a soft, gentle cross-hatch), but the story of each "scary" animal is told with tenderness. Highly recommended to parents wanting to demystify frightening beasts for their little beasts.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story-time
What a sweet little book with great illustrations, breaking down myths like a boss.
M. Lauritano
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Without question, the most beautifully illustrated book of the year. Lovely Beasts has a simple premise, executed immaculately. The subtle shift from black and white depictions of our negative first impressions to full color appreciations of various creatures works every time. This a non-fiction book that has enough tenderness that it could work as a bed time story. My only complaint is that it is not longer, with a few more animals!
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to a variety of misunderstood animals. Each animal is introduced in a two page spread with lovely illustration on one page and a single adjective on the other. While the adjective describes the animal, it isn’t the whole story. Turn the page and there will be another adjective as well as easy to understand facts about the animal.
I usually prefer photographs in nonfiction but the illustrations in this book are realistic and detailed and they totally work. Highly recommended
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-alena
I like the illustrations. I like the format. First you read the stereotypical perspective on certain animals, turn the page, and then learn something you might not have known about these animals. My only objection is that I've never thought of or heard of bats as being "ugly." I never considered them particularly cute; more a little creepy, dark, and strange. "Ugly" is such a harsh word. Otherwise, I'd have given this one five stars. Overall, the book is educational and touching. I actually tear ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful artwork with some surprising (and sometimes little known) animal facts including that hyenas, lions, and elephants are matriarchal, and that porcupines are quite docile plant eaters unless they're scared. A small bibliography can be found at the back along with detailed information about the specific facts but the artwork is the main event here. A good comp title for Actual Size although that one might still be my favorite of the two.
Alyssa Gudenburr
I LOVED this book. The illustrations were hand drawn and beautiful. Each animal first hand only a single word to describe them, usually a stereotype. Then the next page showed a fact that challenged their stereotypes. Example: Porcupines are Prickly, but gentle.
Sarah Daniluk
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Incredible, soft drawings of some of our most recognizable and endangered creatures including short paragraphs of facts for all ages to enjoy.
Katie Kothenbeutel
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations and fun and factual text. Wonderful!
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a well-done non-fiction book for kids. It taught a few simple facts about several different animals and the pictures were really pretty.
Gorgeous illustrations. Great information presented in a very unique way.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous illustrations with lovely prose about the surprisingly tender sides of nature's scariest, slimiest, spikiest, and most gargantuan beasts. Full of interesting details and facts. Great read-aloud!
Kris Patrick
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yes we have to begin teaching media literacy in the primary grades! This would be an excellent starting point.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fantastic facts, laid out in loving ways.
The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, but the words were just not quite enough for me. It was like the text couldn't make up its mind as to whether to be poetic or straightforward, surprising or consistent, specific or general. Probably worth it for the illustrations alone, however.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, children-s
Positive facts about animals often seen as scary or ugly.

A third-grader of my acquaintance adores this book and says it should get five stars. Here is her review:

"Wild beasts are scary but lovely, because there are a billion types of animals even in the ocean. This book has one interesting thing about each animal, like octopuses have three hearts and blue blood."
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This nonfiction picture book takes a brief look at a series of different animals and shows an unexpected side to each of them. Fierce gorillas are actually wonderful parents caring deeply and well for their offspring. Fanged wolves when looked at more closely are all about being friends with one another and connecting through their howls. The feared shark is an important part of its ecosystem and food cycle. The porcupine is less about throwing quills and much more about being a shy herbivore. E ...more
Alex  Baugh
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, biodiversity
Basically, this is a book about breaking animal stereotypes and showing young readers that there are two sides to each of the lovely beasts spotlighted in the charming book. Spiders may be creepy at first, but turn the page and discover what great crafters they are spinning their intricate webs; bats may look ugly but they also play an important role in controlling insect populations, thereby helping the environment. Some bats even help replant forests, and others disperse seeds. Young readers w ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
This book is AMAZING. With simplicity and easy facts it demonstrates that often our first impressions or stereotypes of animals are not the whole story. I learned a few things I hadn’t already known (like some seeds need to be eaten by bats before they can sprout), while also being reminded of some things I already knew (elephants, lions, and hyenas are all badass matriarchies). The illustrations are soft and simple to match the simple information provided and ultimate goal of the book. Breaking ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVELY BEASTS teaches that animals you may believe to be scary, are actually not so bad and that there's so much more to them. The author uses a negative adjective that is typically used for an animal. Then, Kate Gardner uses a positive one that others may not consider. It also explains the why behind it.

Spiders are definitely known to be creepy, but people don't usually think of them as crafters. They design beautiful webs! This is one of the animals in the book along with gorillas, porcupines,
Freya Hooper
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is about breaking down stereotypes. I mean, sure, gorillas can be fierce but did you also know that they are extremely gentle papas who build soft nests for their babies. What about that prickly porcupine? He is really just an herbivore who likes to keep to himself. And who said the leaders in a pack had to be the males? Female hyenas are 10% bigger than the males and the lioness does all the hunting for their pride. The beasts really are more fascinating and lovely than they may first ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So many animals are thought of as scary or ferocious! The silverback gorilla is a fierce . . . papa! He is gentle and caring with his offspring. Creepy spiders spin amazing webs, tough Rhinos are vulnerable, prickly porcupines are gentle and many many more.

Heidi Smith's charcoal pencil and photoshop illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the truth revealing text. What a great way to learn about the "lesser known" side of these great beasts.

For this and more of my reviews, visit Kiss t
Megan Sweeney
I really loved reading this nonfiction picture book. This understated but effective book introduces other ways to look at those animals that often get a bad rap for being mean, creepy, or ugly. It shows these animals in a brighter light, and demonstrates how to look at the beautiful part of everything. The illustrations are amazing and they are really interesting to look at as well. With this book, I would explain to students that it is important to look at something from a different viewpoint b ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a delightful and educational book! Absolutely gorgeous illustrations, and perfect for teaching that appearances aren’t always as they seem, especially with animals. I also love that the book doesn’t just teach about simple animal characteristics, it also talks about how these animals live in, and affect our ecosystem. No wonder it was a 2019 Mitten Award Top Ten Honoree! Recommended for ages 4 and up, but some of the ecological topics covered may be a little over the little ones’ heads, so ...more
Abigail  Heminger
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Genre: nonfiction
Grade: K-2nd
Unique Feature: I love this book because it is a simple book but addresses preconceived ideas on “scary” animals and shows us what is behind the stereotype. It starts off with addressing the stereotype by giving it an adjective, and then it changes the adjective to show they are more than just their stereotype. Great read aloud book that gives good animal facts and incorporates adjectives.
Penny lurkykitty
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely gorgeous picture book which highlights a collection of animals about which we might have some fear or anxiety. For each animal there is an explanation of the animal's importance or something good that it does. It's the perfect amount of facts for small children with really lovely illustrations.
Margaret Boling
6/27/2019 ~ The page headers felt poetic, while the 2nd paragraph about each animal had interesting information. I don't think this book would draw most students for self-selected reading, but I do think it might work as part of a conversation about perspective and assumptions. The overall feel of the book is serene and contemplative.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Lovely Beasts : The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, illustrated by Heidi Smith. PICTURE BOOK/NON FICTION. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2018. $18. 9780062741615


I was surprised by how much I loved this! This would make an engaging read aloud because the animal is revealed with a word and illustration across one spread, but you have to turn the page to find out the "truth" of the animal. It would be a great way to engage children with guessing, or sharing their responses to the word that is the misconception.
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