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Gross Universe: Your Guide to All Disgusting Things Under the Sun


An eye-opening, stomach-turning look at the world around us.

Gross Universe reveals the science behind all the disgusting things that kids love to talk about. From mucus to vomit, from farts to phlegm, nothing is off limits. It's not always pretty, but it is fascinating. Find out why we need scabs, how saliva keeps our teeth clean, and why pus is a "Perfectly Understandable Secretion."

With his wicked sense of...

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An eye-opening, stomach-turning look at the world around us.

Gross Universe reveals the science behind all the disgusting things that kids love to talk about. From mucus to vomit, from farts to phlegm, nothing is off limits. It's not always pretty, but it is fascinating. Find out why we need scabs, how saliva keeps our teeth clean, and why pus is a "Perfectly Understandable Secretion."

With his wicked sense of humor, Szpirglas delves into the topics that kids find irresistibly revolting:

  • Games you should never play, such as Komodo Dragon Spin-the-Bottle
  • Fun activities, such as the Dandruff Landing Pad
  • Scientist A and Scientist B, who help break down scientific facts for young readers

Topics covered include:

  • Sickening skin
  • The hideous healing process
  • Spectacular stenches
  • Things that ooze
  • Open up and say...Eugh!
  • Foul fossils and putrid prehistory
  • What a gas!
  • Mad about mucus
  • V is for vomit

Gross Universe will keep young audiences laughing and learning as they uncover the science behind some of life's more odious occurrences.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Better get a couple of copies of this one because it will literally fly from the library shelves. Kids like gross and Szpirglas knows just how to serve it up to them with fascinating information about pus, mucus, sweat, blood, slime and an assortment of other yucky stuff not suitable for polite dinner conversation. With enticing chapter titles like "Sweet on Slime," "Spectacular Stenches," and "H is for Hurl," he lures the reader in and then expands on all the neat, nasty details in a breezy conversational style. Hilarious cartoon illustrations and a continuous lively debate between Scientist A and Scientist B energize the text. Billing himself as someone who thinks "weird animals and gross facts are cool," Szpirglas includes an impressive list of researchers who have made every effort to make sure he got his facts straight. The icky things related may revolt you, but I just bet you will find it hard to put down. 2004, Maple Tree Press, Ages 8 to 12.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This lively title is for children who love stomach-flipping facts, most of which are connected to the human body. Whether describing the mites that live on dead skin or in the nose and around eyelashes or maggots that clean out pus, the information is presented in a witty manner that is sure to keep readers turning pages to discover more. Additional details are provided by cartoon characters named Scientist A and Scientist B. Puns and wordplays abound as the text reveals tidbits about dandruff (complete with a shiny black "Dandruff Landing Pad"), ear wax, tooth scum, and digestive difficulties that are unsuited for polite conversation. Chapter headings include "Sickening Skin," "Hideous Healing," "House of Wax (and Other Leaky, Oozy Things)," "What a Gas," and "V Is for Vomit." Szpirglas proves that gross facts are cool, and the book may just convince kids who think science is boring to take another look.-Kathryn Kosiorek, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Face it, Szpirglas tells us, the world we live in is definitely gross-and we're pretty yucky, too. Read on, and you'll find yourself up to your oily, sweaty, bacteria-filled armpits in verifiable facts and figures about the mighty microbial wildlife that breeds and excretes in and on all living things. Cho's colorful cartoon scientists, A and B, lead readers through an intimate examination of topics inappropriate for the dinner-table. Chapter titles like "Mad About Mucus," "What a Gas!," "Mind your Pees and Q's," and "V is for Vomit" will entice readers to delve into their favorite foul and fascinating facts; and while certainly less than clinical, broad comic-strip illustrations throughout provide lighthearted visual context and appeal for those who delight in the disgusting. Szpirglas, who describes himself as "Just a guy who happens to think weird animals and gross facts are cool," lists 38 researchers and experts consulted in an impressive concluding page of "Amazingly Awesome Acknowledgments." (Nonfiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781897066393
  • Publisher: Owlkids Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 586,924
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1070L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Szpirglas has been a writer for television and radio, and a children's bookseller. He is now a writer for Owl, Chirp and ChickaDEE magazines.

Michael Cho's fun and irreverent illustrations add bold visual impact to the lively text.

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Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader

Before We Begin... A Word About Your Gross Friends

Sickening Skin

[More Sickening Skin]

The Horrible Truth of Hair!

A Flood of Blood

Hideous Healing

Mad About Mucus

Sweet on Slime

House of Wax (and Other Leaky, Oozy Things)

Pool of Tears

Eye Didn't Want to Know

Open Up and Say


Facts That Will Make You Lose Your Lunch

One Parasitic Page

[Another Parasitic Page]

What a Gas!

Gassing Up

Things That Go "Boom!"

Spectacular Stenches

[And Other Sweet Smells]

You're in the Urine

Mind Your Pees and Q's

Origin of the Species' Feces

The School of Stool

V is for Vomit

H is for Hurl

Foul Fossils and Putrid Prehistory

L is for Leftovers

Amazingly Awesome Acknowledgments


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Before We Begin...
A Word About Your Gross Friends

If you think you're going to be reading this book alone, think again. Living on and inside your body are thousands of creatures: some good, some bad, and most just plain ugly.

It's a Mite, Mite World

Members of the arachnid class, mites are some of the oldest animals to walk the earth, with a lineage stretching back over 370 million years. But mites don't just walk the earth, they can live in fresh and saltwater, and thrive in deserts and the tropics. Some have even been found in Antarctica, where they survive by producing a chemical that resembles antifreeze.

House Dust Mites

There's no point in cowering under a pillow to hide from the dust mites (of which there are dozens of species). That's where dust mites call home! Hordes of these guys live on our pillows, rugs, and mattresses. They thrive in a humid environment -- often provided by our warm, moist breath. These flesh-eaters dine on skin that has flaked off our bodies. One healthy dust mite can poop around 20 anal pellets a day. Their pellets get scattered in the air with our movements, which can cause people to suffer from problems including allergies, eczema (a skin inflammation), and asthma.

Demodex Mites

These eight-legged critters are shaped like tiny cigars. Their stubby legs all poke out near their front ends, forcing the mites to drag their long rear ends across your skin at speeds up to 1 cm (less than 1/2 inch) an hour. Demodex mites make themselves at home on your head, in your nose, and even around your eyelashes.

Don't Forget Bacteria!

Though bacteria make up less than 0.5% of your bodyweight, there are more bacteria living on you than there are people in the world (a thousand of them alone could fit on the head of a pin). It's been estimated that humans have 50 million individual bacteria per square centimeter (1/2 inch) of skin! Oily, sweaty places like your armpits have many more. But there are some places where you'll find little to no microbial life, like your urine storing bladder or the lower regions of the lungs. And just so you know, it's been estimated that there are nine times more bacteria in and on the human body than there are cells in the human body!

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