Crump, Marty The Mystery of Darwin’s Frog
Gr. 4–6 40 pp. Boyds
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Told in an accessible first-person narrative by the behavioral ecologist author, this book describes the Darwin’s frog, an unusual species in which the male broods tadpoles in his vocal sac until they emerge as froglets. The science is solid, and the combination of photos, sketches, and Jenkins’s art brings the history of the frog’s discovery and its unique behavior to life. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Reptiles and amphibians; Animals—Frogs
Hearst, Michael Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals
Gr. 4–6 109 pp. Chronicle
Illustrated by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright, and Jelmer Noordeman. Field guide–like pages (including Latin names of the featured animals, habitat maps, and classification breakdowns); “Did You Know?” sidebars; and digitally colored ink drawings highlight important physiological features of fifty animals, from axolotl to yeti crab. Hearst provides many facts about the animals’ appearance and behavior, and his appreciation for the quirkiness of nature shines throughout this smart, humorous volume. Ind.
Subjects: Natural history; Animals
Johnson, Rebecca L. Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s Undead
Gr. 4–6 48 pp. Millbrook
Energetic text generates excitement about some of nature’s unusual parasitic phenomena. A fungus that “enslaves” houseflies, a “body snatcher” attacking carpenter ants, the rabies virus, and more are described in horror-movie language to engage and thrill readers. The scientific information is accurate; photo close-ups of infected animals and gruesome-looking splatters underscore what the author calls the “deliciously creepy.” Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Natural history; Parasites
Marsh, Laura Weird Sea Creatures
Gr. K–3 32 pp. National Geographic
National Geographic Readers series. Clear color photos highlight these creatures’ weirdnesses, while the accessible text explains how their seemingly strange features help them survive and thrive in their ocean habitat. The inviting pages combine easy-to-read text, photos, and riddles such as this groaner:
“Q. Which fish lights up at night?
A. A starfish!”
A quiz and brief photo glossary are appended.
Subjects: Natural history; Animals—Marine animals; Oceans
Thomas, Isabel Marvelous Mammals
Gr. K–3 32 pp. Raintree
Extreme Animals series. Learn about platypuses’ bills and pangolins’ horny scales in this book highlighting exotic mammals. Well-organized double-page spreads describe each mammal’s “extreme” feature with straightforward text, eye-catching photographs, labels, and fact sidebars. Still more animals are mentioned on the “Record-Breakers” page at the book’s end. Many children will find this book easy to read independently. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
From the November 2013 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.