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A well-stirred slurry of facts and fun for strong-stomached “poop sleuths.”

A biologist digests her own observations and those of other researchers studying poop’s properties, products, and potential.

“Once I put my poo goggles on,” the author writes, “I found fecal fun everywhere.” Picking up more or less where her Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill (2018) left off, Montgomery continues to convey her devotion to decomposition with breezy visits to labs and landfills, conversations with scat specialists, and thoroughly detailed up-close and personal notes on encounters with dead animals, guts, and writhing intestinal fauna. Piling evocative chapter heads like “Hunk of Tongue” and “Stool to Fuel” atop essays redolent with puns and double-entendres, she adds unusual nuggets of insight to her disquisitions on fertilizers and fecal transplants: the significant role dinosaurs and other prehistoric “megapoopers” played in seed dispersal, hints that certain parasitic worms may be as good for us as certain species of intestinal bacteria, and the notion that artificially preserving endangered species isn’t automatically a good thing. Along with occasional diversions to, for instance, point out the environmental impact of palm oil’s near ubiquity in our food and consumer goods, she further indulges her wide range of interests in footnotes on nearly every page and a closing resource list bulging with analytical commentary. Neither the scanty assortment of photos nor Gottlieb’s decorative pen-and-ink vignettes include human figures.

A well-stirred slurry of facts and fun for strong-stomached “poop sleuths.” (index, activities, synonym chart, annotated bibliography) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0347-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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In the same format as his Newbery Honor title The Great Fire (1995), Murphy brings the blizzard of 1888 to life. He shows how military weather-monitoring practices, housing and employment conditions, and politics regarding waste management, transportation monopolies, and utilities regulation, all contributed to—and were subsequently affected by—the disaster. He does so through an appealing narrative, making use of first-hand accounts whose sources he describes in his notes at the end (though, disappointingly he cites nothing directly in the text). The wealth of quotable material made available through the letters of members of “the Society of Blizzard Men and Blizzard Ladies” and other sources help to make the story vivid. Many drawings and photographs (some of the blizzard, but most of related scenes) illustrate the text. These large reproductions are all in a sepia-tone that matches the color of the typeface—an effect that feels over-the-top, but doesn’t detract significantly from the power of the story. Murphy’s ability to pull in details that lend context allows him to tell this story of a place in time through the lens of a single, dramatic episode that will engage readers. This is skillfully done: humorous, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and chilling. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-67309-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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The author of The Snake Scientist (not reviewed) takes the reader along on another adventure, this time to the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh to the Sundarbans Tiger Preserve in search of man-eating tigers. Beware, he cautions, “Your study subject might be trying to eat you!” The first-person narrative is full of helpful warnings: watch out for the estuarine crocodiles, “the most deadly crocodiles in the world” and the nine different kinds of dangerous sharks, and the poisonous sea snakes, more deadly than the cobra. Interspersed are stories of the people who live in and around the tiger preserve, information on the ecology of the mangrove swamp, myths and legends, and true life accounts of man-eating tigers. (Fortunately, these tigers don’t eat women or children.) The author is clearly on the side of the tigers as she states: “Even if you added up all the people that sick tigers were forced to eat, you wouldn’t get close to the number of tigers killed by people.” She introduces ideas as to why Sundarbans tigers eat so many people, including the theory, “When they attack people, perhaps they are trying to protect the land that they own. And maybe, as the ancient legend says, the tiger really is watching over the forest—for everyone’s benefit.” There are color photographs on every page, showing the landscape, people, and a variety of animals encountered, though glimpses of the tigers are fleeting. The author concludes with some statistics on tigers, information on organizations working to protect them, and a brief bibliography and index. The dramatic cover photo of the tiger will attract readers, and the lively prose will keep them engaged. An appealing science adventure. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-07704-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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