Animal Sidekicks: Amazing Stories of Symbiosis in Animals and Plants

Animal Sidekicks: Amazing Stories of Symbiosis in Animals and Plants

By Author / Illustrator

Macken Neon Squid, Murphy, Kordic



Age range(s)



Neon Squid








Macken Murphy, host of the popular animal podcast Species, introduces his favourite symbiotic relationships in his first kids' non-fiction book, Animal Sidekicks. Along the way he explains the cool science behind the baffling behaviour of some animals - from friendly alliances to pesky parasites. Alongside him, illustrator Dragan Kordić skilfully brings to life head-scratching relationships in nature, including:
• The crab that wears a sea urchin as a hat
• The bat that goes to bed inside a plant
• The warthog that likes a mongoose massage
You’ll even find out about symbiotic relationships including YOU! (Hint – is your head ever itchy?) By the end of the book you won't look at nature in the same way again!



Animal Sidekicks is packed with fascinating, true and sometimes strange facts about symbiosis - the relationship between members of two different species (whether positive or negative).

Symbiosis and the science around it is made concise and clear in this brilliant book marketed at a younger audience. The layout is child user friendly - a non-formal, almost chatty, style that is fun and factual. It has stunning and enticing double page spread illustrations by Dragan Kordic and brief paragraphs with catchy sub headings which are appealing and engaging.

There are so many unusual and intriguing subjects of symbiosis covered in Animal Sidekicks.  It is impossible to pick just one favourite or most surprising! My 19-year-old daughter read this too; her top five included the tarantulas with their own personal frog in their den to protect their eggs and the clownfish who dance through the night to create oxygen for the anemones that they live safely amongst. The relationship between the snail and the hermit crab also amused us both - especially the description and illustration of a "crab conga line" as the hermit crabs upgrade their shell homes simultaneously! The illustrations are informative and yet playful and are a delight to look at.

It is clear that the author, Macken Murphy , is a serious expert in these interactions between species and clearly explains how and why different relationships work, whether beneficial to one species only, mutual or parasitic or to the detriment of a species. What makes the science and knowledge stand out, however, is the obvious affection that the author has for his topic. There is such a sense of passion and enthusiasm to want to pass on the fascinating facts and teach the reader how important and unique all of these symbiotic "bonds" are.

I absolutely loved the book - it looks and feels glossy and luxurious yet publisher Neon Squid is obviously working hard at making their publications not only accessible, but affordable. It is modern and stylish and definitely will be a huge winner in our school library!

128 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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