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Monday, October 2, 2017

What Makes A Monster:Discovering the World's Scariest Creatures, by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand. Alfred A.Knopf, Random House. 2017. $23.99 ages 8 and up

" ... HONEY BADGERS are known as the world's most fearless creatures in the Guinness Book of World Records. The pick fights with leopards, lions, hyenas, and even porcupines. Their thick, rubbery skin is tough enough to withstand arrows ... "

Following up on Pink is for Blobfish (2016), Jess Keating and David DeGrand describe 17 animals that answer the titular question. They are quite monstrous, part of The World of Weird Animals, and certainly scary when you consider the descriptions and information provided on double page spreads.

Each spread begins with a warning: Don't high-five the AYE-AYE, Don't dine with the VAMPIRE BAT, Hide from the GREATER HONEYGUIDE. You get the picture. A clear photo, a cartoon, q descriptive paragraph, a sidebar containing pertinent information about species, size, diet, habitat, predators and threats, and a warning concerning their monstrous behavior complete each spread. Then, readers move on to consider the next included MONSTER.

Examples run the gamut from those you will recognize and know to be dangerous to others that might come as a surprise. Case in point for me: the PRAIRIE DOG. What? That cute, though often annoying, little creature with its big eyes, its tiny body, its constant chattering.

"What's so scary about a sweet little PRAIRIE DOG? Prairie dog
fleas can carry the deadly bubonic plague. This is the same
disease that killed an estimated 50 million people in the Middle
Ages. Infected fleas can jump from prairie dogs to domestic pets,
so it's very important to de-flea your cats and dogs!"

Got it! Who knew?

That is the wonder of such books. They bring to the forefront information for consideration and new learning. Not really surprising to learn that the assassin bug, the fangtooth moray eel, the tyrant leech king give a bad vibe. It is important for readers to realize that included species do what they do to survive. They each have a role to play in the workings of the world and the habitats where they reside. The inclusion of the HUMAN might come as a surprise - it shouldn't!

"Pollution from industry and cars, habitat destruction, overfishing, and overhunting are all consequences of human development."

The author leaves readers with a question to ponder - Is it a monster? Look closely!

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