BOOK REVIEW: Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy

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Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy is in essence a book is about the endangered species list and are in need of saving all over the world.

Steadman brings the animals to life through his intricate watercolour artwork and Levy brings all the facts to the table that are justified with thorough research and a genuine exploration of the species.  The way these two can tell a story about each endangered species and makes it interesting to read is a wonder to behold.

I will admit that when I first flicked through ‘Critical Critters’, I thought “Oh no, not another textbook“. But after I started to read, I found myself wanting to know each and every thing about all the different species in danger and how I could possibly get involved to help.

I also enjoyed how Steadman and Levy had a little side narrative going on throughout the entire book. They would banter back and forth while in the process of creating and putting the book together and it gave the reader an insight into the creative processes of both and how some of their ideas took shape.

There are so many species in this world and every single one has a different way of life. One quote really stuck out to me because it shows that we do take the natural world for granted.

‘Perhaps we refuse to accept their intelligence because we would then feel guilt for everything we have done to them.’

The book did take a little while to get through but that only goes to show how many species are in danger, whilst also shedding light upon the ecosystem that desperately needs our help, to maintain the peace so to speak. We are unfortunately the main reason a lot of these species are in danger in the first place.

All the resources and websites that can help with protecting the ecosystem and different habitats are posted in the back of the book.

Overall, it was a very informative book with a comedic twist on the scientific side of things. Steadman’s artwork is a crowning glory to Critical Critters and his ability to bring the ‘Gonzo’ to what could be a generic textbook about endangered species; will help it win fans who may just purchase it for Steadman’s artwork alone.

I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about endangered species and why they are on the endangered list and anyone who is a fan of the artistic brilliance of Ralph Steadman.

Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy

RALPH STEADMAN was born in 1936. He began his career as a cartoonist, and through the years has diversified into many creative fields. Ralph collaborated with Dr Hunter S. Thompson in the birth of ‘gonzo’ journalism, with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; he has illustrated classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm, and written and illustrated his own books, which include Sigmund Freud, I Leonardo and The Big I Am. Steadman is also a printmaker, and has travelled the world’s vineyards, culminating in his books The Grapes of Ralph, Untrodden Grapes and Still Life with Bottle. Steadman’s recent books for Bloomsbury include his epic collection of bird illustrations, Extinct Boids.
CERI LEVY is a film-maker, who started out making music videos before moving into the world of documentaries. His works include Bananaz, a film about the inner machinations of the group Gorillaz, and the forthcoming The Bird Effect; he is also co-curator of Ghosts of Gone Birds, and therefore a crucial cog in the boids’ creation myth.
Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy was published by published by Bloomsbury Natural History on 27th July 2017
You can purchase a copy of Critical Critters by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy from FoylesWaterstones, or The Book Depository:



To discover more about Bloomsbury Natural History click here

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Review by Erik McManus
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