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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Scoop on Poop! : The Fascinating Science of How Animals Use Poop, by Wayne Lynch. Fifth House, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2018. $14.95 ages 8 and up

"Once, in the Serengeti Plains of East Africa, I watched a clan of hyenas kill a zebra on the boundary between their hunting grounds and their neighbors'. The neighbors raced to the kill, and the two clans fought fiercely over the carcass. When the fight was over, members of both clans - many of them wounded and bleeding - pooped nearby."

And so they declared the boundary had not changed. The presentation of so much information concerning poop, and how it used for home building, attracting mates, sending messages, and cooling off is humorous, engaging and very accessible. Written conversationally, readers might even be unaware of just how much they are learning as they explore its pages.

Dr. Lynch explains in his introduction that a lesson learned while helping at his uncle's farm in his youth has stayed with him throughout his life, and he shares it with his readers:

"I always wondered why cows produced so much poop, and why they always seemed to poop the minute got into the barn to be milked. When I questioned Uncle Woodford about this, his answer was short and simple. "They poop inside the barn so that there's something for you to do on rainy days." That answer may not have led to Dr. Lynch's future in science; he did, however, find (in later life) that poop was quite an interesting topic. Who knew?

You will have lots to share when you have finished reading this informative book. Surely, some of it will find its way into conversation with humorous results.

"The African elephant is the biggest pooper of them all. A ball of elephant poop can weigh one to two kilograms, or two to five pounds (you don't want to get hit in the head with one), and the animal drops more one hundred of them a day. That's enough poop to fill the trunk of a family car."

Take that to the dinner table ... or any number of further revelations. There is much to enjoy here.
There are colorful photographs aplenty. Captions are clear and add context. Personal stories add interest and humor. The design ensures a sense of not being overwhelmed with the facts stated. Four short chapters organize the data provided: Poop Is Fascinating Stuff, Poop Tarts (my personal favorite), The Power of Poop, and People and Poop. A quiz will find willing participants and an index with take interested readers back to particular pages.

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