Put this on your middle-grade menu.

EXTREMELY GROSS ANIMALS

STINKY, SLIMY AND STRANGE ANIMAL ADAPTATIONS

From poop-eating dung beetles to wasp larvae in zombified worms, animals survive and thrive in ways humans may find gross.

After reminding her readers that definitions of gross can be cultural as well as innate, Eamer digs right into her disgusting subject, framing her examples to show how what appears to us as distasteful can serve as an animal’s survival skill. Spread by spread she shows how a wide variety of animals might eat, use, or mimic poop, slime and snot, spit, and bad smells. She introduces creatures that discard parts of their bodies and others that attach themselves to and use others’ bodies. Each page opens with an amusing headline, the narrative text describing examples in two or three short sections, each also with a header. The lively design includes captioned stock photographs, often annotated with comments. A fulmar chick vomits a smelly red oil, and the speech bubble says “Blech!” The discarded tails of chameleon geckos squeak. In some cases, such as the ability of velvet worms to spit glue, animal skills have inspired scientific research and practical applications in the human world. Readers are reminded that scientists must move beyond the grossness and ask further questions. There’s plenty of factual information here, but the appeal is the eww factor. Perfect for middle-grade fans of Jess Keating’s Gross as a Snot Otter (2019). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Put this on your middle-grade menu. (glossary, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0337-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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