Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth's Strangest Animals

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Overview

With humor and flair, Michael Hearst introduces the reader to a wealth of extraordinary life-forms. Which animal can be found at the top of Mount Everest, 10,000 feet under the sea, and in your backyard? Which animal poops cubes? Unusual Creatures includes these answers plus hundreds more fascinating facts for curious minds, amateur zoologists, and anyone who has ever laughed at a funny-looking animal. Perfect for enthusiastic and reluctant readers alike, in class and at home.

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Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth's Strangest Animals

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Overview

With humor and flair, Michael Hearst introduces the reader to a wealth of extraordinary life-forms. Which animal can be found at the top of Mount Everest, 10,000 feet under the sea, and in your backyard? Which animal poops cubes? Unusual Creatures includes these answers plus hundreds more fascinating facts for curious minds, amateur zoologists, and anyone who has ever laughed at a funny-looking animal. Perfect for enthusiastic and reluctant readers alike, in class and at home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hugely entertaining and just as informative, this guide to “unusual creatures” (defined by Hearst as an animal “that makes you stop and say, ‘Whoa, dude! What’s up with that?’”) proves that truth can be stranger than fiction. Striking an informal and sometimes ironic tone, Hearst introduces species like the echidna, flying snake, and narwhal, describing their physical characteristics, habitats, and behaviors, with tidbits, quizzes, and even poems neatly tucked into the crisp, guidebook-like aesthetic. Each animal appears in a matte illustration that combines naturalistic features with subtle hints of personality. Hearst often has great fun at his subjects’ expense (“blobfish: not as cute as the aye-aye,” reads a caption next to the forlorn-looking psychrolutes marcidus) while delivering fascinating insights into what makes each of these animals extraordinary. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
" A cool compendium of fascinating animals" - Boston Globe/ Best Children's Books of the Year

"We are enthralled by the information and sheer artistry in bookmaking of this compendium of odd living things from around the globe" - Lisa Von Drasek, Early Word, Best Books to Give To Kids You Don't Know Very Well

"This invitingly designed volume featuring 50 eclectic creatures will inspire young readers with enthusiasm for the natural world." - Shelf Awareness for Readers, Starred Review

"This handsome volume is a fun-for-all informative compendium." - School Library Journal

"Not cute curios, but the seriously weird, which... make the animals that much more appealing." - Kirkus Reviews

"May well inspire a new generation of budding scientists" - Shelf Awareness for Readers/Best Books of The Year

"Hugely entertaining and just as informative" - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Hearst's enthusiasm for his subject... comes through on every page. A terrific conversation starter." - Scientific American

"Hearst's appreciation for the quirkiness of nature shines through, and is reinforced in a concluding note admonishing readers to be kind to the earth" - The Horn Book Magazine

"Author Michael Hearst keeps the tone exciting and entertaining, often times breaking into a goofy poem, or throwing in a quirky true or false quiz." - Apartment Therapy

"A really spectacularly inventive, weird, and beautiful book for kids of all ages. Get one for the kid nearest at hand, which might be yourself." - Rick Moody, author of Garden State and The Ice Storm

"A quirky toast to the fascinating, impressively well-adapted freaks among us." - Discover Magazine

Children's Literature - Kim Harris Thacker
Meet the blobfish (the name says everything), the tardigrade (also known as the water bear or moss piglet), and the yeti crab (named after the legendary yeti due to its oddly hairy legs). In fact, fifty bizarre creatures await the reader in this hilarious, informative book, which is an exemplary resource for reluctant readers who revel in science, the odd, or (ideally) a combination of both. Readers will laugh their way through memorizing the biological classification taxa using Hearst's odd mnemonic ("Kids Place Candles On Foot Gravy Sausage") and will not stop until they read Hearst's "A Few Closing Words," which are suggestions of how young people can help to save unusual and well-known creatures from extinction. The only thing that could possibly improve this book would be an actual photo of each of the odd creatures Hearst references. The illustrations, however, are delightful, as are the other graphics that are found throughout the book. Though the suggested age range for this book is for children of elementary school years, older readers—including adults—will enjoy it and will appreciate the book's clear organization (including a table of contents and an index) as well as the lists of websites and additional resources that appear in the "Oh! One More Thing!" section at the end of the book. Reviewer: Kim Harris Thacker
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Readers are introduced to a passel of near-alien life-forms from a wide diversity of habitats. There's the hammer-headed bat (Africa), whose noise is not a high-pitched squeak but a resonant HONK! as loud as a car horn. The giant Gippsland earthworm (Australia), has a 10-foot body almost as thick as a garden hose. And the Yeti crab (South Pacific), a blind, deep-sea dweller with long, thin yellow hairs covering each of its legs. And they are just for starters. In alphabetical order, these 50 unusual creatures trundle/swim/fly/crawl through the pages, with illustrations, global distribution maps, and a scientific classification chart as guideposts. Pen-and-ink illustrations abound, washed over with soft pastel colors. Paragraphs of chatty, informative text provide data on habits and physical characteristics and are enriched with boxes of interesting facts. Also proffered are true/false Q&As, pop quizzes, and the like. The text is introduced by a clear section on scientific classification and is rounded out with hints on leaving a smaller "footprint" on our planet, a list of conservation organizations' websites, and some nifty information on the author and the illustrators. Personal in tone, chatty, and intriguing in subject matter-a sort of "Guinness Book of Animal Oddities"-this handsome volume is a fun-for-all informative compendium.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Hearst brings us 50 examples of Mother Nature in all her strange pageantry. Meet the aye-aye, a primate from Madagascar that--unfortunately, and thank goodness it is nocturnal--is considered by some of the citizenry to be an evil omen, which is a greased chute to the endangered-species list if there ever was one. Meet the barking spider and the blobfish, the slow loris, the pea frog and the pink fairy armadillo. Each creature comes with a distribution map, line drawings in washed colors, an array of scientific goodies (Latin names, figures, behavioral attributes) and color commentary from Hearst, sometimes in verse and with moments of sheer goofery, as in these two true-or-false zingers: "The basilisk in Greek mythology…can turn a man to stone with its gaze. / The Jesus Christ lizard has similar abilities, but its predators turn into motorized Christmas lawn ornaments." Yet the text and artwork have achieved something very valuable: One can only marvel at these creatures--the Chinese giant salamander and the hagfish ("the only living animal to have a skull but no spine")--and, as a company of oddballs, find something endearing in even the flying snake, which is a big step toward a greater protective urge for the planet. Not cute curios, but the seriously weird, which for some--hopefully many--will make the animals that much more appealing. (Nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452136455
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 7/22/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,360,298
  • Age range: 8 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hearst is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and writer. He lives in New York.

Jelmer Noordeman, Arjen's brother, is an illustrator living and working in the Netherlands.

Arjen Noordeman and Christie Wright together make up the multidisciplinary design company Elasticbrand, based in Amsterdam.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 11, 2013

    This book is a hit with my two boys (7 and 5 years old).  We can

    This book is a hit with my two boys (7 and 5 years old).  We cannot put it down.  
    We've had many "encyclopedia" like animal books but this one is our favorite.  
    The author has a good sense of humor and my boys cannot stop laughing at his jokes (True or False sections are the best).
    I am going to get few extra books and give them as presents to my boy's friends. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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