Think all animals are cute and cuddly? Read this book to discover just how disgusting they can really be!
There are plenty of books out there that focus on "gross" substances in the human body, but many animals use these same substances in ways that will surprise and fascinate kids! Did you know that Komodo dragons use their saliva to poison their prey, but mice use their saliva to heal their wounds? Could you guess that vomit is used by the sea cucumber to startle enemies and also by bees to make honey? Young readers will walk away grossed out and with an understanding of how different animals use spit, vomit, slime, poop, urine, and blood to survive.
This appealing Ripley’s-esque offering pairs two perennial favorites: oddities of the animal kingdom and gross scientific factoids. Adults may be better off not knowing that a cute bunny eats its own feces or that a giant water bug breathes through its behind, but the gross-out factor will be a huge draw for kids, especially reluctant readers. Stewart’s thorough scientific explanations are tempered by a casual language (“A mouthful of pee would make any predator lose its appetite”) that keeps the text from becoming too heady. Photographs are bright, numerous, and arranged in a style that mimics other high-interest reference and nonfiction. Children will be so delightfully disgusted they may not notice that they are learning basic and important biological concepts such as ecological adaptation and environmental stewardship. A detailed glossary includes brief and understandable definitions of all sorts of fun jargon: cecotrope, regurgitate, and more. Grades 3-6. --Erin Anderson