Together: Animal Partnerships in the Wild

Together: Animal Partnerships in the Wild is a hardback picturebook that takes the reader through examples of cooperative relationships in the animal kingdom. The stylised illustrations follow a flock of cranes, flying across every page of the book. As they migrate, the cranes fly over a variety of different animal partnerships.

Written by Isabel Otter, the text is presented on one page in short haiku poems (three lines of non-rhyming words celebrating the natural world) and there is a more descriptive piece of text on the opposite page. Clover Robin’s illustrations are beautiful, gentle and atmospheric. The earthy colour palette and matte finish fit the subject of the book perfectly.

The term ‘animal partnerships’ is used to cover a range of very different relationships, including close social interactions among members of the one species (elephant herd), co-operation between members of the same species (pilot whales) and symbiotic relationships between two different species (goby fish/anemone). A peek-through feature is present throughout the book.  It is not clear why it was included, other than to draw attention to the cranes, the feature itself does not reveal anything new or contribute to the flow.

This is a complex subject presented in quite a complex way. The use of haiku poetry and advanced English (‘strong social bonds and ranking systems’) makes the book more suitable for older readers. But in reality, many adults would find it challenging. This is definitely one for the more academic reader with a passion for the natural world.