"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 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"
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"
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
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
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)