A stellar lineup of nonfiction writers offers true stories, which, like the previous volumes in the Guys Read series, are written to appeal especially to boys.
Steve Sheinkin leads off with a survival tale, as Capt. James Riley and his crew are shipwrecked off the coast of West Africa in the summer of 1815 and survive the Sahara desert by drinking their own urine and eating their peeling, sunburned skin. Enslaved, they are eventually saved by Muslim traders, and Riley joins the anti-slavery movement upon his return to the United States. Sy Montgomery writes a beautiful ode to the rain forest of French Guiana and profiles tarantulas and Sam Marshall, a scientist who studies them and who is featured in Montgomery’s The Tarantula Scientist (2004). Jim Murphy delivers an unsettling history of dental horrors from 6,500 years ago to the present day (or at least his second visit to the dentist); Candace Fleming profiles Jumbo, the world’s largest elephant; Elizabeth Partridge writes about Alan Lomax and Muddy Waters; and T. Edward Nickens is almost killed canoeing frigid Alaskan waters. The stories—prose, poetry and a graphic story—are full of action and lively, sometimes-gross details that make their subjects come alive.
An unusually strong volume—a smorgasbord for young nonfiction readers (both boys and girls) and a good pick for the classroom. (Short stories. 8-14)