Book-bait for middle-grade readers that oozes eww appeal.



From the World of Weird Animals series

What makes an animal gross?

In their latest entry in their World of Weird Animals series, Keating and DeGrand present 17 more curious creatures, this time animals that may inspire disgust. The Canadian-based zoologist-turned-author has found repulsive examples from around the world. These include slime-covered sea-dwellers, farting fish, gulls who projectile-vomit, even a Spanish newt that can extend its barbed ribs out through its poisonous skin. Zombie worms from ocean depths, tree frogs (who occasionally turn up in Australian toilets), and burrowing South American caecilians will likely be unfamiliar; common housefly larvae (maggots), Siberian chipmunks, and slobbery giraffes have surprisingly unsavory aspects. Poop protects a Marabou stork’s legs and provides meals for dung beetles. Mucus protects snot otters and parrotfish. Fully-formed toadlets hatch from a Surinam toad mother’s back. This title follows the pattern of previous ones: Spread by garishly colored spread, readers are introduced to weird and wonderful creatures with a photograph, two short paragraphs of intriguing information, and fast facts: common and Latin names, size, diet, habitat, and predators and threats. Words and phrases that may not be familiar (think “chytridiomycosis,” “cutaneous respiration,” “eviscerate,” “ocean acidification,” and “pharyngeal teeth”) are bolded in the text and defined in a glossary. Cartoon illustrations and a lively design complete the package. With no index or page numbers, this is fact-full but best for browsing.

Book-bait for middle-grade readers that oozes eww appeal. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6450-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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


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)



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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