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Children's LiteraturePart of the "Discovery!" series, Fleisher takes us on an unusual journey into the lives of the very small creatures, many of whom may be on you or me. Explaining how the parasites move from one host to the next and what their effect on the host is could be macabre, but because of Fleisher's lively writing style, it is mostly interesting. Topics include parasitic fungi, plants, single-celled parasites, worms, and vertebrate parasites. He also addresses the history of parasitic studies, explaining how the well-known medical symbol of the serpent wound around a wooden staff is actually a treatment of a parasite. He also looks at research that show how some parasites control the movements of their hosts, driving fish to swim close to the surface where they are caught as lunch. The parasite then moves from the eaten fish to the bird where it lives out its life. While students may not read this book from start to end, they will enjoy picking and choosing among the types of parasites to become acquainted with: Would you like fungus today? Or a tapeworm? Each one has a story, a starting place, a way of moving around and a way of getting to a new host when the old host dies. It is a fascinating book even if you will feel itchy before you finish. Back matter includes a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, further reading and Web sites, and an index. 2006, Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner Publishing, Ages 8 to 12.
—Amy S. Hansen