Reviewed by CBC Reviewer
I've heard teachers and media specialists praise books that feature the "gross" because they believe they will appeal to reluctant young male readers. But this compendium of bizarre animal traits is so unusual its hard to imagine readers of any age putting it down. Animals that need feces for their intestinal bacteria or their nests, slime for trails or to glow in the dark, spit for protection from thorns, to attract a mate, or to clean one's nose...all adaptations that start with "ick" and end with "How smart!" Just gross enough that children will read it, with a good variety of examples and nice focus on vocabulary.
This book's modern style of graphics crowds text, photos, and sidebars on every page. Young readers are used to the style and will enjoy browsing the text in any sequence or order. It would be easy to imagine setting up a sort of "quest" station with the book, where a student would be challenged to find a specific adaptation for a specific purpose. Or specific facts might be used as the foundation for internet research. "Why does a shrew need to eat three times its body weight each day?" (surface area to volume ratio). "What other animal uses its large ears for the same purpose as the fennec fox?" (the African elephant). In a classroom, this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Book for 2013 is destined to become as "dog–eared" as the drooling bulldog on its cover.
Review posted on 1/14/2013