Riotous reading for students of snot flowers and fans of fecal facts.



Ready for a slide through some of the animal kingdom’s more revolting behaviors? Cue the mucus!

Arrays of big, bright nature photos showing more than 50 creatures ranging from cute, fuzzy cottontails and baby pandas to the ever popular Pacific hagfish and evocatively named pustulated carrion beetle (not to mention—but let’s—the bone-eating snot flower worm) anchor this gleeful introduction to many of nature’s poop eaters, slime exuders, projectile vomiters, carrion recyclers, and butt squirters. As if it were necessary, regular sidebars offer “Extra Ick!” to a commentary punctuated by the occasional “Yuck!” or “Now, that’s disgusting!” Stewart happily brings on the gross as she trumpets the “Toxic Toots” of the beaded lacewing’s larva, buzzes over flesh fly maggots that eat out harlequin toads from the inside (“That’s right: In this scenario, the toad croaks”), and flings out stomach-churning facts about “vile vittles” and the many uses of spit. If most of the photos aren’t as explicit as the text, which may disappoint some readers, they do consistently provide riveting close-ups of the wild kingdom guaranteed to leave even the most committed animal lovers a touch queasy.

Riotous reading for students of snot flowers and fans of fecal facts. (glossary, index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3746-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.



An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Serviceable, if a bit dry.


From the Explorer series

An overview of the dino clan, featuring a populous fold-out timeline of the Mesozoic Era.

The book opens with a perfunctory setup in which Eric Eagle, intrepid librarian, is sent back in time to “file a report on the entire history of the dinosaurs.” Following this, a set of sober-sided disquisitions survey the history of dino-discovery, then dinosaur hip bones, lives, diversity of forms, adaptations, extinction, and modern successors. Forshaw’s painted group and individual portraits are all likewise staid (some predators do at least have bloodless bits of prey hanging from their mouths), but there are a lot of dinosaurs on view, systematically identified and dated. There is also a portrait gallery of paleontologists, all (like “Agent Eagle”) white but two of whom are living women. The accordion-folded timeline, which is one-sided and perforated for easy removal, begins with the Triassic Period, ends in a truncated view of the Cenozoic (with a chicken), and is thick with both colorfully patterned creatures and short, descriptive annotations for each. Three sets of easy quizzes allow young fans to see how much of the “reports” they have retained. Bugs!, also by the same authorial team but with illustrations by William Exley, opens with a virtually identical setup and proceeds to cover the “bug” world in similar fashion.

Serviceable, if a bit dry. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-995577-0-53

Page Count: 46

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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