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Who knew that red-spotted newts produce poisonous chemicals that smell and taste bad to protect them from predators? Or that they are called efts (newts were originally ewts) during the one to five years they wander on land before returning to water (and, presumably, newt-hood) to hatch their young. Gove (One Rainy Night, p. 556, etc.), a zoologist with a specialty in snakes and lizards, delivers a riveting account of one newt's action-packed life. Her book is typically full of fascinating, arcane bits of information, as well as moments of high drama: a newt's particularly gooey encounter with a hungry toad, for example. We follow the eft on land, and then to her egg-laying water stage, ending up as we began, with our newt heroine eating some tiny clams and nudging through the mud. Gove is a graceful writer who can turn a lesson on newts into an exciting story. And, as they did in Gove's A Water Snake's Year (1991), Duncan's wonderfully detailed illustrations match the exactitude of the text brilliantly. This may be more than most people want to know about newts, but it is an inspiring book for nature buffs.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Atheneum