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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Friend or Foe: The Whole Truth About Animals That People Love to Hate. Written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by David Anderson. Owlkids, 2015. $17.95 ages 10 and up

"Enter any bat cave and you'll step in globs of guano. Guano is bat poop, which piles up on the floor of a cave or any other place where bats roost. Guano in a crowded cave could be as high as a seven-story building! In warmer parts of the world, guano contains histoplasmosis, a fungus disease that can make people very sick."

There are ten animals here, none that assure our warm, fuzzy feelings toward them. Some are revolted by them, others are scared silly, and still others will be acutely aware of the danger they present. That is the joy of sharing such books as this one. They have an effect, and cause us to pause and want to learn more. You might not know, because of your previous perceptions, that each one also has decided benefits to humans.

In her introduction, Etta Kaner talks about differing points of view concerning the creatures that are part of this book. Bees sting; they also produce delicious honey. Both sides of the argument are presented. It is left to the reader to decide which of those truths mean the most when determining friend or foe.

Rats are first up. I know how I feel about them. A double page spread explains why we see them as disgusting, dangerous and decidedly deceptive. They cause damage to crops, spread disease, destroy wildlife and steal! 'On the other hand', they are tremendously athletic, and very smart, and love to cuddle when they sleep. Aww! or Eww!?

Others included are: cockroaches, snakes, leeches, bats, sharks, spiders, wolves, mosquitoes, and
vultures.  I couldn't wait, I went straight to page 38 - mosquitoes. I was prepared to quash any single argument made for choosing friend when discussing those annoying, whiny, pesky bugs! First, I was reminded of only a few of the reasons for hating them: kill people in some parts of the world, cause others to deal with pain and suffering, suck blood and annihilate certain bird species, drive caribou mad, and are attracted to the hum of a power station causing it to break down. What's the other point of view, you wonder. Well, not all of them suck blood. Their proboscis design has been used to create medical needles that don't hurt. They eat honeydew, also know as insect poop. They are dinner for many beneficial creatures. The even clean up water ecosystems. Enough to change my mind .... well, NO! But I understand the argument.

Cartoon-like illustrations add to the entertainment! This is a book that is sure be a starting point for further research into the up and down sides while determining an answer to the question: Friend or Foe?

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