Biology, verse, and colorful cartoons make a fun combination in this collection of 29 poems in which the wordplay is sometimes as gruesome as the science. The dermestid beetle can �pick brains and nostrils clean� for lunch. The praying mantis devours her mate (�Severs his head / Right off his neck . . . / He tastes delicious!�). The vibrant, cartoon-style illustrations on thick paper with lots of white space show the wild predators and prey in their amazing variety. On one double-page spread, a mole grabs a slug that then glides away, saved by its mouth-numbing slime, which makes the mole gag and throw up. And there is more irreverent science in the long informative notes, printed on spacious pages at the back: �Much of the world�s dining is done on dung.� A great cross-curricular title for grade-schoolers, this concludes with a long bibliography for those who want more facts for classroom sharing or personal interest. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman
*STARRED REVIEW* The conclusion of this volume s title poem finding food / is not a joke. / Living things must eat / or croak with its blunt appraisal of the whey of the world per se, sets the tone of Hauth and Clark s graphic exploration of who eats what. As the poet delicately surveys the somewhat unsavory aspects of survival, the illustrator s hilarious watercolor-and-ink renderings defuse the deadliness of the subject matter. The result is an enriching overview of the natural world spiced with a Dorothy Parker esque sense of the macabre that children will absolutely relish. A telling example is Waste Management, in which a light treatment of the turkey vulture s carrion-loving ways It likes to feast before the worms, / which saves us all from stink and germs is dramatized. Serenely smiling, it pulls ruby, taffy-like sinews from a ribcage while a tiny fly rests on the tip of a cloven hoof separated from its former haunches by a bloody tire track. Other poems look at the wildly diverse ways in which organisms lure or capture their prey; still others break down sophisticated concepts like symbiosis and parasitism in brilliantly accessible terms. Delectable poetic lessons on the food chain designed to help young readers rather literally digest the natural world. --Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
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Hauth's funny, eloquent poems celebrate the often-grisly realities of the food chain, depicted in Clark's scraggly ink and watercolor illustrations. A mole gags on a banana slug, a rat "gets a hug" from a boa constrictor, and a flattened toad becomes a roadkill restaurant ("In adjoining rooms, they dine al fresco--/ upper thigh for ants, lower thigh for wasps"). Readers will learn plenty along the way: "Eating Words," points out that "vore means eat" and "carni means meat," therefore, "carnivores eat/ snakes and lizards, deer and lamb,/ carrion, birds, fish, and ham." Appended notes provide additional animal facts. A satisfying mix of tutelage and repartee. --Publishers WeeklY
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.