Fourteen creatures lay claim to the title posed in Guiberson’s central question: “Who is the deadliest creature in the world?”
As in previous collaborations with illustrator Spirin (The Greatest Dinosaur Ever, 2013, etc.), each animal here delivers four or five short, boastful sentences as proof. The golden poison dart frog avows, “I zap ants and beetles and store poison in my skin….I am tiny but have enough toxin to kill ten men….That’s why I am the deadliest creature in the world!” Reptiles are well-represented by three snakes and the Komodo dragon. The sole mammal is the short-tailed shrew, whose poison immobilizes its prey, permitting underground caching for later noshing. Spirin’s mixed-media, double-page paintings depict most animals—scales, teeth, and talons delineated with Renaissance precision—in their likely habitats, sometimes entwined with freshly killed prey. However, taking cues from Guiberson’s text for the Brazilian wandering spider (“I like to travel and can show up anywhere. Have you checked your shoes, boxes, cars, and bananas?”), the artist presents a mischievously disquieting still life of a car’s seat with fruit basket, kid’s sneaker—and spiders.
With well-chosen, clearly conveyed facts and handsome compositions that invite study, this team delivers another fine effort, equally well-suited to family browsing and classroom use. (Informational picture book. 4-8)