My four-year-old daughter’s favorite game is “What Am I?” Although each player can choose to be anything, most of the time we choose animals. In this simple game, a player must describe who or what they are so that others can guess. You can describe what you look like, where you live, what food you eat, etc. We play this game (what feels like all the time) in the car, in line at the grocery, or waiting for our food at a restaurant.

We’ve been playing the game since this summer, and it’s usually the same animals in the mix, including rabbit, butterfly, giraffe, octopus and elephant. I figured it’s time to add more interesting animals to the lineup. I turned to books and YouTube for inspiration.

Songs for Unusual Creatures,” a video series by Michael Hearst for PBS Digital Studios, is about bizarre animals and the music that they inspire. The first episode is about the Jesus Christ lizard. My daughter and I first read about the creature in Hearst’s book, “Unusual Creatures,” so she knew that they are great swimmers, can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes, and run on water. But seeing them in action made her giggle, and she was thrilled to learn that the music inspired by the lizard was played on a toy piano.

Unusual Creatures

Unusual Creatures” is filled with humor and features 50 creatures with illustrations, short poems, Q&As, and quizzes. Although my daughter is much younger than the suggested age group of 8-12 years for this book, she was fascinated by the funny-looking and bizarrely named animals. Here are just a few wacky facts that intrigued her: Hagfish have four hearts. Wombats have square poops. I can’t wait for our next game of “What Am I?”

Here are other books about wacky and wonderful animals:

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth

Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems

Who Has These Feet?

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live

Strange New Species: Astonishing Discoveries of Life on Earth

The Dictionary of Ordinary Extraordinary Animals


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