SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, It's a Fungus Among Us
A detailed, readable compilation of facts about fungi. The book is divided into three sections: "The Good," "The Bad," and "The Downright Scary." The authors emphasize the positive aspects of different kinds of fungi, although readers may be drawn to the more shocking facts located toward the end. Brief text is broken up by bolded topic headings. The photographs are fascinating and fun, and several science experiments are included. There's an incredible amount of material covered here, and it is unlikely that many libraries own comparable titles. Billups and Cusick make a compelling argument for the ways fungi might improve our world, describing everything from a fungus that eats plastic bottles to cell phone batteries made from mushrooms. VERDICT Both a solid research tool and an enjoyable read, this is a worthwhile purchase for nonfiction collections.
—Casey O'Leary, Mooresville Public Library, IN
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Get the Scoop on Animal Snot, Spit & Slime
Using colorful photos, short paragraphs, and a well-organized format, this book on the nastier bits of animal biology will be a fun read for all. Kids will learn about the importance of mucus for the eyes, skin, and digestion of a variety of beasts, such as elephants and sea lions. The importance of slime and spit, including their role in protecting prey from their predators, will surprise readers. Subjects that often
provoke laughter in children are presented in an informative, straightforward
manner that reveals the amazing abilities of many domestic and wild creatures.
VERDICT: Consider for collections where students can’t get enough gross animal facts. –Denise Moore, formerly at O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
KIRKUS, Get the Scoop on Animal Snot, Spit & Slime
Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information. Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed. What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)
AAAS SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS, Get the Scoop on Animal Snot, Spit & Slime
Liquids produced by animals in the form of slime, mucus, and spit are the topics scientifically featured for readers of varied ages. More than 85 animals are considered. Almost every letter of the alphabet is represented by at least one species. Specifics about humans occur in almost two dozen features. Each discussion topic is typically restricted to about a paragraph of coverage. Facts provided should amaze, amuse, and educate any level reader. Some "do it yourself" experiments are suggested for even young readers. Here one encounters the "why" along with many examples. Protection, communication, and other behavioral activities are referenced with facets, such as, the release of reddish brown mucus by hippos to cool skin. Various studies are mentioned, such as tests of zoo monkeys to tell level of stress in the animals by checking the amount of a hormone in each monkey's saliva. Seldom are tunicates even mentioned in books for readers not studying at high school or beyond levels. This book includes three photos and details about the ways of selected tunicate forms. It is a positive that this book was tested using several fourth grade classes. There is an extensive index, but the vocabulary listing is limited to nine terms. Bright colors throughout, many photos per page, and 80 pages of informative reading add to the positives for this book that indicates on the title and cover pages a presentation of 251 cool facts about the topics in consideration. —Kathryn Stanley Podwall, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Animals That Make Me Say Ewww
In the third book in a Ranger Rick–branded series, written in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, photographs show wild animals in their more uncouth moments. Cusick invites readers to revel in being grossed out while also encouraging them to rethink animal behavior. Gorillas eat their own “nasal detritus” because “there is so much competition for food in the wild that the small amount of energy in a booger is worth eating.” Meanwhile, hippos swat their tails in circles while they poop, “sending feces flying in many directions. Pooping this way lets them send their communication chemicals farther away.” For every icky description of, say, how a kangaroo mother cleans her pouch with her tongue (“There’s no toilet flush button in a kangaroo mom’s pouch”), Cusick’s insights into animal biology offer a valuable counterpoint.
CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, Animals That Make Me Say Ewww
Readers learn about animals in a kid friendly way through the presentation of amazing facts about the more unusual animals’ survival skills used to live, clean, or protect themselves. The down and dirty facts engage kids while explaining the science behind what they see through the glossy, well-illustrated photographs. The photos and topics grab the kid’s attention. Although the blend of information is horrid, it contains extraordinary scientific facts. The facts about these animals are gross but the content is easy to read and is entertaining for all ages. This is a book for the kid who wonders about animals and their boogers, poop, pee, or vomit as it gives scientific answers to what seem like silly questions. The answers will impress some adults as well. A glossary that introduces kids to new words, giving definitions and short explanations, is found at the end. This is a great book for exploring some of the yuckier sides of animals. It is branded as a Ranger Rick/National Wildlife title. Reviewer: Ann Cannon
AAAS SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS, Animals That Make Me Say Ewww
Dawn Cusick’s Animals That Make Me Say Ewww is a visually interesting foray into animal behaviors that may appear gross at first glance. However, these behaviors have important roles in maintaining their health, mating, rearing their young, and deterring predators. Cusick discusses how animals clean themselves and get food, as well as other interesting behaviors. She includes information about a wide range of species, including orangutans, jumping spiders, giraffes, earthworms, night herons, honeybees, dolphins, eels, etc. For example, preying mantises clean the sharp spines on their front legs to help get every last bit of energy from their meal and keeps their legs free from bacteria and fungi. In addition, rhinos and elephants eat their feces to bring helpful bacteria into their bodies. Amphibians, including frogs and salamanders, are covered in mucus that helps oxygen move into their bodies and carbon dioxide move out. Beautiful and detailed photographs accompany these descriptions. The end of the book includes scavenger hunt challenges to learn more about animal behavior that takes the reader inside to the internet and other information sources, as well as outside, for interactive experiences. A short glossary helps define the terms used in the descriptions, and an index makes finding an animal of interest within the book easier. This book is appropriate for a younger audience for both home and school use, and can be used to generate explorations of why these behaviors exist and how they are similar or different between species. — Heather L. Kimmel, Falls Church, VA
BOOKLIST, Animals That Make Me Say Look Out
This latest in the Animals That Make Me Say . . . series provides a wide array of information on how animals in the wild behave when threatened. Split into two parts, the first, “Look Out for Animals on the Defense,” breaks down the various types of defense mechanisms animals use when protecting themselves and their young. Organized by behavior rather than animal, this provides examples of creatures using tactics that range from a threatening charge (bears, rhinos, even birds) to camouflage and playing dead (opossums, many species of frogs and snakes). These behaviors are utilized both by animals avoiding predators and those hunting for prey. Glossy close-up photos of the animals discussed accompany facts on teeth and tusks, animal fighting styles, and the difference between poison and venom. The second part, “Look Out for Ways to Protect Animals,” discusses the ways animal survival can be threatened, both by other animals, as with invasive species, or because of human interference. An interesting, if introductory, overview of a subset of animal behavior. Reviewer: Maggie Reagan
THE HORN BOOK, Get the Scoop on Animal Puke
Addressing the ick factor first, Cusick helps readers take this initially off-putting subject seriously. Her colloquial treatment, which covers subtopics such as defensive vomiting,
regurgitative feeding, pellet expulsion, stomach ejection, and cud and courtship emesis (i.e., vomiting), is accessible and accurate. The numerous illustrations — mostly color photos — evince ingenious photography. Interviews with a veterinarianand a physician conclude the volume.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Get the Scoop on Animal Puke
More than 65% of fourth grade students in the US cannot read at grade level. Besides causing problems for school systems and children’s self-esteem, consider this: students not reading on grade level by the end of the third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school with their class, and high school drop outs are 65 times more likely to spend time in prison than college graduates.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Get the Scoop on Animal Puke
What do hyenas, proboscis monkeys, and vampire bats have in common? Vomit. This companion to Cusick’s Get the Scoop on Animal Poop! examines how and why various animals regurgitate their food. If the photographs of vomiting animals don’t win over readers, the colorful subtopics should, from “Toxic Puke Defense” (“When a bird eats a milkweed-feeding monarch, the bird throws up”) to “Puke Soup,” about creatures that liquefy their prey using digestive enzymes. Cusick presents the material in a (very) immediate manner, providing readers with plenty of science, humor, and animal behavior facts to chew over—and even regurgitate.
LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION, Get the Scoop on Animal Poop
The subtitle of this book, 251 Cool Facts about Scat, Frass, Dung, and More! really summaries its contents. Whether scientists are studying an animal’s feces to discover its diet or people are using yak dung as a heating source, this book is a real tell-all about poop. Each page has several colorful photographs and a short paragraph or two describing an interesting fact about animal feces. The reader discovers ways animal feces are essential to other animal life and extremely important to humans as well. At the end of the book there is a short interview with a vet, and a “learn more” section with great ideas for those young scientists eager to pursue the topic. Some young readers may turn up their noses at this book, but the nature of this topic and its easy-to-read style are sure to attract a crowd. Bibliography. Glossary. Reviewer: Steven Hadge
AAAS SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS, Animal Snacks
Like the book's cover, there is just enough yuck factor to induce any reader to explore the complexities of food webs. Interesting and colorful images accentuate the appropriately zesty humor and global flavor of the text. Intriguing snapshots of what animals eat convey as broad and sophisticated an understanding of adaptations for feeding as you can expect in 90 pages. This not just a regurgitation of what we've all seen before; there is just enough depth without sacrificing clarity, and just enough new vocabulary without being diverted by jargon. A few easy tweaks to how the book is organized would have made taxonomic relationships clearer (for example, whales, manatees, and dugongs are indeed mammals and geckos are reptiles). The book concludes with two nifty lists. One is a tried and true teaching strategy a list of things for which to scavenge in the book's pages. But also there is a glossary with keywords that, as the author points out, might be more useful in searching (foraging) for additional information than what kids are prone to come up. Reviewer: Diane Bellis
AAAS SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS, Animal Eggs
Animal Eggs: An Amazing Clutch of Mysteries and Marvels! is an excellent introduction to oology, the study of eggs. The book contains stunning photographs of animals and their eggs. Every page is a visual kaleidoscope of color. Representative eggs from each phylum of the animal kingdom are shown. The reader will be truly amazed by the wide varieties of color, shape, and size of the eggs depicted on each page. Skillful photography shows the eggs from the inside, from the outside, and up close. The text is succinct, but informative, describing the animals and their eggs with cute captions. Readers will want to look at this book again and again as they try to interpret and assimilate all the facts about the many eggs presented. “Whose Egg is This?” is a clever way to put all that new knowledge to use at the end of the journey. The final page contains a short glossary of terms and an index, so the reader can easily find a specific animal of interest. Very young children will enjoy the color and beauty of the book. Older children will read with wonder as they are introduced to a new area of science. This is an ideal book to tickle the brain and make the reader want to learn more. A great book for school libraries, it is also a good book for at home reading and reference. A trip through the woods, into one’s backyard, or around a pond may never be the same as you look for all those lovely eggs. Reviewer: Teresa F. Bettac
THE HORN BOOK, Cool Animal Names
Cusick introduces over two hundred fifty animals with unusual names; they’re grouped according to nomenclature rather than species (for example, readers will find leopard frogs with leopard sharks and leopard moths). Clear photographs accompany brief descriptions of habitats, behavior, and/or unique characteristics. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the variety of familiar and unfamiliar animals and will return for multiple browsing experiences.
BOOKLIST READER, Cool Animal Names
Cindy: When Cool Animal Names (Charlesbridge/Imagine! 2011) arrived, I knew that I’d better read it fast if I hoped to ever seen it again. Once our focus group gets their wildlife-loving mitts on this, it’s all over! What a fun book. The first section has chapters that open with a photo and description of a well-known creature followed by a variety of others that share part of its name. For instance, the first chapter starts with a photo and some facts about tigers, including a close-up of its distinctive stripes. Then there are pages of other tiger named creatures: Tiger-legged Monkey Tree Frogs (bizarre-looking spotted frogs with tiger-striped legs), Ruby Tiger Moths, Tiger Pythons, Tiger Snails, Tiger Leeches…you get the idea. Each animal gets a photo and a short description that gives habitat and a quick fact or two.
The second section has chapters arranged around one type of critter that has a variety of species named after other animals. The shark chapter features Cat Sharks, Crocodile Sharks, Dogfish Sharks, Elephant Sharks and so on.
Some of my favorites? Alligator Bugs from Belize, Rhinoceros Hornbills with the strange brightly colored horn rising from the top of their beaks, and the Dog-Faced Pufferfish that look amazingly like a dog. If the focus group can get their snouts out of this book long enough to share, perhaps we’ll get their reaction. Appropriate for elementary school readers, this book will also have appeal to my 6th grade animal geeks.
Lynn: Cindy knows our focus group VERY well. They fell upon this book like starving souls on bread and barely came up for air. I think you could safely say this is a hit. In fact, I had to take it away from them so I could write about it this morning. They were fascinated by the two sections – as was I. I hadn’t really thought about animal names in that way before and this led to some wonderful discussion that could be duplicated in any classroom for certain. The layout of the book is excellent, with bright pictures and clear sharp text. The general category is introduced and explained and then the individual examples follow in an easy-to-understand pattern. Some of our favorites include the giraffe beetle, the peacock moth, the cat bear and the entire section on spiders – of course. Would you have guessed that there are more creatures named after tigers than any other animal?
The uses for this book in a classroom are boundless! What a terrific way to get kids to think about categories, animal species and identification. Start with the well-planned “Name Games” suggested on the last page. These are activities an entire class can do. One suggestion uses a photocopy of the title page and asks the students to circle big animals in red and small animals in blue and another asks the readers to research certain animals to find out why they were named after other animals It’s easy to think of many other ideas too. Children can invent and illustrate their own animals – and write a short paragraph about why the name is justified. Common Core anyone? The index and title page are especially well done and easy for children to use. All this and the book is just plain fun to read! Order several – this is a guaranteed kid magnet. Reviewers: Cindy Dobrez & Lynn Rutan
NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS, Animal Tongues
This is an outstanding book for elementary students. It introduces exploration and invention and then expands on what readers have read or viewed in the book. The simple language, coupled with amazing photographs of animals and their tongues, makes this book a great choice.
The information is factual as well as highly intriguing. The factual information is aligned to humans and their experiences. For example, when reading about the speed of the chameleon’s tongue, the author states, “Its tongue is fast and long.” Then the author asks, “How fast is fast?” To find out how fast this is, the author encourages the reader to “clap your hands together once or snap your fingers. In the time your hands were together, a chameleon’s tongues could have shot out of its mouth 16 different times!” This activity meshes with the reading and provides an authentic experience to build scientific knowledge.
In addition, the book has trivia snippets throughout the text. The snippets are fun to read and provide the beginnings for searching for more about animal tongues. A glossary defines words that some young readers may not know. While reading the book, there were times I had to say, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” In short, this fascinating book and its photographs will entice readers of all ages. And it will prompt them to want to find out more and more about tongues. Reviewer: Coralee Smith
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Bug Butts
This introduction breaks new ground as it examines the unusual adaptations involving the anuses (referred to as "butts" throughout) of close to two dozen kinds of insects, each of which is the focus of a picture spread. Short paragraphs of text, set in the backgrounds of brightly colored paintings of the insects in natural settings (greens, yellows, and browns predominate), describe special physical and/or behavioral characteristics that help them survive. For instance, spittlebug nymphs excrete large amounts of fluid, derived from plant sap that they churn into enough froth to completely cover their bodies, thus protecting themselves from both the elements and predators. A section at the end of the book describes basic insect anatomy and has simple diagrams. Bug Butts boasts a colorful format (the spreads have different colored borders, with headings in bright red) and a clearly written text. Readers will need some background in biology, however, as some scientific terms are not defined (e.g., "molting," "exo- skeletons"); the terms for insects' metamorphic development are only defined in the glossary. Other general introductions include some of the same insects but do not have Cusick's unique point of view. Reviewer: Karey Wehner
NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS, Bug Butts
The ability to grab students’ attention and engage them in reading is often enhanced by the “ick” factor. This book definitely will grab some readers' attention as they delve into the realistic details in this book. This topic might seem disgusting to adults, but it will captivate students as they learn about anatomical adaptations that allow some insects to survive.
The book is well researched and has been reviewed by multiple scientists in the entomology field. It contains colorful illustrations and captivating descriptions of how bugs use their butts. Each two-page spread provides an illustration and a narrative. Examples of topics include how insects use their abdominal adaptations to survive, move, and fight. Vocabulary about insect anatomy as well as insect names are provided where appropriate and flow smoothly within the text. The end of the book provides illustrations and information that is grade-level appropriate; this covers the actual anatomy of an insect and describes how food is ingested by a bug and eventually excreted by the particular butt in question.
Also included is an index and glossary that will enhance students' understanding. While it is often said that a book will be a good addition to the classroom library, this book will be a great addition to the classroom or school library. It will engage readers in a topic that is often not talked about—in the words of young readers "butts"—while at the same time provide them with accurate information about adaptations of insects that help them to survive. Reviewer: Christine Royce