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KIDS’ NONFICTION REVIEW: Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals

Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals.
By Michael Hearst.
Artwork, Diagrams, and Other Visuals by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright and Jelmer Noordeman.

Flying Snake. Blobfish. Glass Frog. Axolotl. Sea Pig. Does this sound like a list of animals made up on a whim by a kid? Of course it does! But the exciting truth is that these are all real animals living on our planet today. Not only do they have what are sometimes amusing names, they possess a range of truly incredible abilities. Honestly, aren’t you the teeniest bit curious to know about animals that can shoot blood from their eyes as far as five feet, or survive machete blows from farmers? If so, you are going to love this book.
A page or two is devoted to each of fifty animals, listed in alphabetical order by their common name. The author, however, introduces and explains biological classifications at the outset of the book, as well as a simple mnemonic device for remembering the order in which they are arranged. The entry for each animal includes its biological classification information, its scientific name, a map showing where in the world it lives, a paragraph of basic information about it, and a scale illustration of the animal in color. Most pages also include additional elements such as charts, illustrations, fun facts, or other interesting and amusing tidbits, such as a side-by-side comparison of a Yeti Crab with a Yeti. The book is engagingly and sometimes amusingly written, and can be read straight from beginning to end, though its format and layout also make it ideal for browsing and reading bit by bit. The written information is interspersed nicely with the visual information, and it is short and interesting enough to both grab and hold attention as well as remember and share later. Recommended for middle elementary grades and up, and for anyone who loves animals or learning bizarre but fun facts.

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