The Tarantula Scientist

The Tarantula Scientist

4.5 10
by Nic Bishop, Sy Montgomery

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A Sibert Honor Book An ALA Notable Book A John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year A 2005 Outstanding Science Trade Book for K–12 A Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice List
• “Superb color photos abound in this spectacular series addition. . . . This is a vivid look at an enthusiastic


A Sibert Honor Book An ALA Notable Book A John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year A 2005 Outstanding Science Trade Book for K–12 A Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice List
• “Superb color photos abound in this spectacular series addition. . . . This is a vivid look at an enthusiastic scientist energetically and happily at work. . . . A treat, even for arachnophobes.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Montgomery's lively prose shows readers what a passion for a topic can turn into. Sam Marshall, a college biology teacher and researcher, is followed by Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop as he studies Goliath bird-eater tarantulas on the forest floor in Tresor Reserve, French Guiana. It is along way from Hiram, Ohio to South America. Without the emphasis of sidebars or headings, the text simply tells what Marshall does but the reader learns plenty about scientific procedure, patience, preparedness and the right tool (even if it is a stick or cottage cheese container), comparison by quadrant, measurement and its uses, and careful notes. Montgomery works readers through the way science classifies spiders, types of spiders, the Goliath's qualities, and what Marshall is learning. Bishop's pristine photos show close-up, and well-lit, the spider part under investigation and the way scientists sometimes look as a somewhat worn and sweaty Marshall lies in the dirt, making notes, teasing spiders out of their holes or weighing them. Invitations to readers are sprinkled through the book in the form of direct address, posing of unanswered questions, interesting speculations as to why certain spiders behave the way they do, listing other spiders that no one has studied yet, and fittingly, the book ends with one of Marshall's college students who is seen back in Ohio using the computer in her own spider studies. As in other books in the series, this one introduces us to animals, habitat, a career in the sciences, and ecology with a thoughtful note on why we would wish to preserve the habitat of these animals. End matter includes cautionary notes about handling tarantulas (preferably not at all),spider stats, spider vocabulary, "how this book was researched," bibliography, websites, how to contact spider watching sites in French Guiana, and an index. This excellent entry in the series shows just how good Montgomery and Bishop have become in the hard work of conveying information by seeming effortlessness. It is a wonderful nonfiction book, in every sense of the word. This is a volume in the "Scientists in the Field" series. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-10-Superb color photos abound in this spectacular series addition. Readers follow the career of Sam Marshall, tarantula scientist extraordinaire, from his "Spider Lab" at Hiram College in Ohio to the rain forests of French Guiana as he hunts for, finds, and studies the creatures he loves so well. The conversational text contains as much spider lore as scientific investigation and provides a cheerful look at a dedicated scientist. (The fact that he did not do well in school may encourage those late bloomers who have not yet found their passion in life or believe it to be far beyond their academic grasp.) Informative, yes, but even more important, this is a vivid look at an enthusiastic scientist energetically and happily at work, both in the field and in the lab, questioning, examining, testing, and making connections. A treat, even for arachnophobes.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sam Marshall loved animals, but disliked school-until a college research project on tarantulas made him realize that science is a process, not a set of answers. Montgomery and Bishop team up for another stellar excursion into the world of working scientists. They accompany Marshall on a research trip to the rainforests of French Guiana, and document his enthusiasm for large, hairy "spider dinosaurs" in crisp, detailed photographs and clear, lively prose. Returning with him to his Hiram College lab, filled with spiders, student researchers, and questions, they show what kind of questions scientists ask about spiders, and how they learn the answers. Montgomery has a gift for scene-setting, describing Marshall's activities in just enough detail. She deftly weaves clear explanations and comparisons into the main text (" . . . their 'skin' is called an exoskeleton, because exo-like exit-means 'outside' "). Bishop's phenomenal photos show spiders mating, shedding their skin, even leaping through the air. It's enough to make Miss Muffet fall in love. (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Scientists in the Field Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.32(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Nic Bishop, who holds a doctorate in the biological sciences, is the photographer of many acclaimed books for children.

Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, newspaper columnist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who writes award-winning books for children as well as adults.

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The Tarantula Scientist 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book inspired me to be a spider scientist. If you like spiders, this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thi s book was very enjoyable. I strongly recomend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yep i love this book-thepvpgames
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rak3301 More than 1 year ago
The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery is a very interesting book. It takes you through all different type of spiders that you would not even imagine. Unlike most informational books, this book is extremely easy to follow and shows great graphics. If you are someone who is very interested in spiders, this is definitely the book for you. It does not even matter what age you are; you will enjoy it either way. Even if you are not a spider person you will find this novel to be quite entertaining.
HYPATHIA More than 1 year ago
This is a fast and fascinating read. Sy Montgomery brings life, humor and fact together with her engaging conversational writing style. My only critique is that it is much too short - I yearned to learn so much more about these wonderful animals and the people who study and care for them. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book! The text is highly readable and appealing to children without being even the least bit condescending. The pictures give me the heebie-jeebies. Big, hairy spiders creep me out. So I guess they're perfect! Younger readers will enjoy the pictures and can have the text read to them if they'll sit still long enough. Reluctant readers as old as 13 will find themselves drawn into this fascinating (and creepy) book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so long abd i think im going to passout
Kathleen Sparrow More than 1 year ago