Davies (Talk, Talk, Squawk!, 2011) rips viciously into another popular topic with this gallery of animals “decked out for killing”—from tiny venomous spiders to big cats for whom humans are just slow-moving “meals-on-legs.”
Dishing up appetizing facts and observations (“The pack may start to eat even before their victim is actually dead”), the author opens big with “Killer Cats,” feral canines, sharks and other carnivorous macro-creatures. Then she seats a guest list of such smaller fry as owls, snakes, “[t]eeny and [t]oxic” box jellyfish and spiders around Nature’s table, leaving room for latecomers with defense mechanisms like noxious sprays (bombardier beetle) or poison skin (puffer fish). Following delicious cautionary notes about smart and stupid human behavior around wild animals (and an off-flavored remark about the dangers of working in “poor tropical countries”), she rounds out the banquet with assorted amuse-bouches relating to the importance of predators to ecosystems and the potential uses of venoms in medical research. Layton garnishes his doodled cartoons with can’t-end-well dialogue (“here snakey, snakey…”) in balloons and occasional splashes of gore. Despite all this, all these creatures look like Twinkies next to the unmentioned microbial clan.
Easily digestible, if not particularly nutritious. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 7-9)