From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-The subtitle for this book modestly describes what Settel delivers with panache. Among the creatures described are swallowtail butterflies (with slimy larvae), predatory fireflies, murderous cuckoos, parasitoid wasps, regurgitating birds, and a few bloodsuckers (ticks, lice, bats, and lampreys). Chapter headings such as "Dog Mucus and Other Tasty Treats," and lovely lurid prose describing the brainwashing behavior of fluke parasites will definitely hook the book's intended prey. Vivid comparisons make the astounding facts comprehensible to young readers: "Some ticks take in so much blood, they swell to nearly four times their normal size. That's like an adult human expanding to the height of a two-story building!" The format differs from that in Theresa Greenaway's Really Fearsome Blood-loving Vampire Bats (1996) and the rest of "The Really Horrible Guides" (all DK) due to its emphasis on text over illustration, but the small, full-color photos are clear. A useful glossary defines the italicized scientific terms sprinkled throughout the text. This offering is another strike against the undeserved reputation of science books as dry, dusty tomes of little interest to children.Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Not just another gross-out book of animal oddities, this attractive volume presents its material as wondrous science instead of sensational effect. The chapter heads are a bit over the top--" Murderous Nest Mates," "Gulping Eyeballs," and so forth; but, of course, kids will love them. They'll also like the variety of unusual creatures Settel introduces in straightforward terms--whether it's the nefarious cuckoo that insinuates its young into another bird's nest or an African frog that drops its eyeballs into its mouth. Most scientific terms are explained quite clearly in the text, and a glossary is appended. Color photos, sometimes a bit too small, show each animal. The selected readings are mostly adult titles. Some children's titles would have been a good addition, as this is one of those books kids won't want to end. Stephanie Zvirin