Choruses of delighted “Eeewww”s guaranteed, as well as exposure to such important scientific terms as “mustelid” and...

READ REVIEW

100 MOST FEARED CREATURES ON THE PLANET

Fertile fodder for fans of faux fearful freakouts.

The latest in a largely interchangeable series with nearly identical titles (100 Deadliest Things on the Planet, 2012; 100 Most Awesome Things on the Planet, 2011; etc.), this gallery of creepy creatures offers unapologetically sensationalized content. Small portrait photos, five per spread, are matched to names, size ranges, two pithy descriptive notes and “scariness ratings” on a scale of one to five shark teeth. Along with, no surprise, 10 types of shark, the entries include a variety of biting insects and parasitic worms, poison frogs, snakes, carnivorous mammals on land and in the sea, deadly birds (a cassowary “[k]icks hard enough to tear an animal open or rip through a car door”), poisonous jellyfish and killer spiders. No need to fear, writes the author, “most” of these animals will leave you alone if not bothered, and “most” of their bites or stings have medical treatments. Browsers seeking self-inflicted terror or disgust will find in the small but rousing pictures a wide range of open maws and jagged teeth—but (with rare exceptions like the guinea worm being pulled from a sore) nothing seriously gruesome or disturbing.

Choruses of delighted “Eeewww”s guaranteed, as well as exposure to such important scientific terms as “mustelid” and “parasite.” (“Top 100” countdown, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-56342-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books”...

DO YOU KNOW KOMODO DRAGONS?

Spatters of blood and other body fluids serve as the chief attraction for this cursory look at our largest living lizard.

Printed in squint-worthy type, most of the handful of casually phrased facts and factoids chucked in at the bottom of each spread relate to eating habits: Komodo dragons are “fast and swift,” they “shred apart large prey,” and they most commonly die from cannibalism. Budding naturalists will also learn that Komodo dragons vomit when they need to make a quick exit, and they shake their victims hard enough to spray the surrounding landscape with voided dung or even inner organs. Sampar illustrates all of this behavior in loving, gory (thoroughly gory) detail—though in his cartoons, which take up the lion’s share of each spread, the Komodos stand on hind legs, dress in human clothes, and deliver wisecracks or remarks (“You couldn’t have done that in the garage, dear?”) placed in speech bubbles. A similarly anthropomorphized cast chows down through like-titled introductions to dinosaurs, hyenas and praying mantises.

Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books” palls. Maybe not the best choice for pre-lunchtime reading, though. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-339-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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