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Children's LiteratureThis book informs children about the amazing strength of spider silk and the high tech efforts of scientists to recreate this remarkable substance in the laboratory. A man-made version of spider silk may someday benefit medical patients and make it possible to produce lighter, stronger vehicle parts, and body armor for soldiers. The discussion starts with the biology of the golden orb weaver, a large spider found in tropical climates whose dragline silk "is the strongest material made by any kind of animal." An ounce of this silk is "five times stronger than an ounce of steel." An excellent illustration shows how the orb weaver constructs a web. The next chapter covers scientists' work to isolate spider silk genes, reproduce them in goat mammary glands, and extract a spider-silk-like substance from goats' milk. The book concludes with a chapter about potential uses for this "goat milk silk." The text avoids discussion of ethical issues raised by using spider genes in goats. It explains the fascinating science of this process in language appropriate for upper elementary and middle school readers. Though it follows a picture book format, this book is in fact a sophisticated middle reader. Occasionally, layout interferes with the flow of the text as when, for example, one begins the interesting story of the search for spider silk genes and turns the page to find an unrelated graphic about silkworms. This book is also part of the imaginatively-conceived "Imitating Nature" series. Some examples of other titles in the series are, From Bat Sonar to Canes for the Blind, From Penguin Wings to Boat Flippers, and From Bug Legs to Walking Robots. 2005, Kidhaven Press/ThomsonGale, Ages 8 to 13.
—J. H. Diehl