From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Ratchet up your ick-factor and practice your eeyuw's because Johnson's researched text will reveal enough details to cause squeamish (or highly imaginative) readers to quail. Hairworms that cause crickets to commit suicide; jewel wasps that turn cockroaches into walking pantries for their larvae; and a fungus that drives its ant host to find the perfect launch for its sporing body are just a few of the "zombie-makers" Johnson introduces. The readable text is based on telephone calls and emails with scientists in the field as well as the published articles listed in the bibliography. The author is careful to include a "Science Behind the Story" explanation for each of the featured parasites, quoting the research scientist whenever possible. Color photos reinforce the ickiness, as do splotches of red, green, and black creeping across the pages like patches of mold. Readers needing a more personal jolt may prefer Nicola Davies's more gentle (but still nicely gross) What's Eating You?: Parasites-The Inside Story (Candlewick, 2007) or Brian Ward's more prosaic Microscopic Life in the Home (Smart Apple Media, 2004). Scientific in its approach, this slender book gives children a look at scientific research in real time, and also shows how little we truly know in a less-than-lovely field.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Everyone knows zombies aren’t real, don’t they? After reading Johnson’s inventively imagined book, readers won’t be so sure. From a fungus to a hairworm, a guinea worm to a virus, and a flatworm to a parasite, there exists one commonality of these creatures’ assaults upon a host: the brain of the host is altered and, in most instances, commandeered. One might assume these exotic attackers are prevalent in far-flung locales, but that supposition is frighteningly false: many are found in North America. Text, graphics, photos, illustrations, and the use of bloodred in the general design combine to create this gross-but-I-can’t-put-it-down book. Each chapter follows the same format: introducing the organism (with quick facts in boxed inserts), discussing its life cycle and how it captures the host’s brain, and concluding with “The Science behind the Story.” And Johnson never lets up on the creatures’ similarities to zombies: “Zombie Trait #2: Obeys commands without question. Will even die trying.” Disgustingly good. Grades 4-8. --J. B. Petty