The team behind Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable returns with another informative oblong volume, Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies, illus. by Neal Layton. The duo catalogues the "animals (and plants) that relish the sort of conditions that would kill a human quicker than you could say `coffin' "-from the polar bears at the North Pole to the cold-cuddling Emperor penguins on the South Pole, to camels who welcome a chill after a hot day in the desert. Layton's mix of full-bleed, full-page illustrations, photo-collage spot art and cartoon panels nicely balance the humorous, fact-filled text. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Danielle Williams
Humans are rather delicate creatures. Only a few degrees fluctuation in temperature can cause a human to become ill and only a few degrees hotter or colder can result in death. But animals live all over the world, in climates that could kill a human in minutes. Some of the most amazing creatures live in the coldest places on earth. Polar bears and penguins live in the Artic and Antarctic, and can survive because their bodies are specially built to withstand temperatures several degrees below zero. The same is true of animals that live in desert environments, though perhaps their lives and bodies are even more interesting than animals that live in frigid environments. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this fascinating book is the attention the author pays to all life, including insects and single-celled organisms. The author takes care to show how different animals can survive in different conditions and contrasts that information with how a human could or could not survive the same conditions. The illustrations are a particular treat and add a good deal of humor to the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-"We humans are such a bunch of wimps!-we can't live without food, or water, and just a few minutes without air is enough to finish us off. Luckily, not all life is so fragile." So begins Davies's breezy, engaging, and thoroughly informative natural history of some of the most tenacious survivors on the planet. There is life everywhere on Earth, even in the bubbling volcano, the driest desert, the polar wastelands, and much of that life thrives in conditions that humans could not endure for five minutes or less. This funny and appealing little book describes who these amazing life-forms are and how they manage to survive. Simple and inviting cartoon drawings enliven the text and convey the types of extremes in an easy-to-understand manner. This book is filled with report information, but also is interesting enough to read for fun. It will pique children's curiosity and have them clamoring to learn more about these unique creatures.-Cynde Suite, Bartow County Library System, Adairsville, GA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Fresh from their dive into Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable (2004), Davies and Layton introduce a menagerie of survivors who have adapted to the worst conditions that nature can dish out. With plenty of Layton's daffy, digitally colored cartoons to add both detail and flights of fancy ("Live Naked" proclaims a polar bear's signboard), Davies conveys readers from the Arctic's far-below-zero temperatures to the 200-plus degree heat near a volcano's rim, from sunless "black smokers" on the sea bottom to harsh deserts. She not only identifies denizens of each clime, but also explains how, for instance, Emperor penguins keep their feet warm, wood frogs can survive being frozen and thawed and camels prevent their sensitive brains from overheating. In the end, the author presents persuasive reasons for awarding the "Truly Toughest Extreme Animal" trophy not to humans ("We humans are such a bunch of wimps!"), but to the lowly water bear. Fine fare for younger naturalists. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)
Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)
Meet the Author
Nicola Davies graduated with a degree in zoology before becoming a writer, producer, and presenter of radio and television programs. She lives in Somerset, England.
Neal Layton received distinction for his M.A. in illustration from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, in London, and has been illustrating books for children ever since. He lives in Portsmouth, England.