Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals
Written by Charles Ghigna
Liberty Street 10/11/2016
128 pages Ages 8—12
“The Star-Nosed Mole. The Blowfish. The Fangtooth. Kids will be amazed to discover that these wildly unusual creatures aren’t the stuff of science fiction, but are co-habitants of our incredible planet in a fascinating new book by Charles Ghigna—Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals.
“Packed with more than 200 vibrant photographs and fun facts about some of the most astonishing and obscure animals in the world, this deluxe gift book is perfect for reluctant readers or anyone who loves totally gross and amazing animals.
“As the title indicates, the book’s exploration of animal oddities is divided into four sections so readers can delve into strange animals, unusual animals, gross animals, and cool animals as classified by their appearance and behaviors. Included in this nonfiction compendium are “Creature Features” sidebars packed with remarkable stats on an animal’s scientific name, physical characteristics, diet, habitat, range, and more. An extensive glossary and index make this book ideal for classroom use. The book’s content meets Common Core State standards for grades 2—6.
“Each section of Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals is further organized by unique layouts and color-coded tabs to aid in discovery:
• Gallery spreads explore a theme, introducing several animals that live in different parts of the world but are adapted to their environment in similar ways
• Featured creature pages highlight one extraordinary animal through a detailed description of its life
• Creature collection spreads bring together a group of animals to compare contrast and learn more about their similarities and differences
• Macroview pages show tiny details of very small animals through gorgeous macrophotography
“A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to the Animal Planet R. O. A. R. (Rear Out.) campaign, Animal Planet’s initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.” [PRESS RELEASE]
As noted in the publisher’s press release (above), the book begins by explaining its layout. Each section contains the bulleted features mentioned above. Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals is a full of gorgeous photographs of some of the world’s oddest animals along with interesting snippets of information about these creatures. Many of these fascinating animals are nearing extinction, and yet, in the past two years alone two new discoveries include a six-foot long tree lizard and a new African antelope. At the book’s back is an easy to use glossary, an index, and places were readers can find more scientific and conservation information, if they are so inclined.
Since the blurb above tells you so much about what you can expect, let me tell you about a few things I found impressive. For starters, the photographs. The colors are amazing and the details, especially up close, are nothing short of amazing. (That was redundant, but still amazingly true.) The two spreads in this review don’t show how colorful, bright, and intimately detailed the photographs can be for some animals.
The themed spreads are some of the best spreads in the book. Only “Fabulous Feet” (ranges from a small red-eyed tree frog to the Asian elephant) allow you to compare the feet of various sized, shaped, and colored animals. Another, rather strange spread to view is “The Eyes Have It.” Thirteen photographs of an eye, just one, from animals like the goat, owl butterfly, Chinese water dragon, and an octopus, among others. These close-up photographs will astound you. No touch-ups, no Photoshopping, no additions, or deletions, just the real unadulterated eye of various animals (some domesticated, such as the cat, and others wild like the Leopard Gecko).
Some animals are so deserving of a full spread all to themselves. One such animal is the Hoatzin, a large stinkbird. (Or as Ghigna writes, “A “fowl” odor?”) Does it really stink? You bet it does. It smells like . . . not making this up . . . cow manure. It lives in the northern regions of South America. Though a bird, it does not fly well due to weak wing muscles. Maybe one of its most distinguishing features is its vocalizations. Hoatzin groan, croak, hiss, and grunt—all very loudly.
Kids who love pictures of animals, especially unusual, sometimes gross, and perhaps a tad scary will have more than they can devour in Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals. Teachers will have a surfeit of animals and information about each. Using this book in a biology classes might increase students’ interest in science and the world around them.
Homeschooled kids may find researching an animal to use in an essay or report can easily begin within the pages of Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals. Reluctant readers will find the short descriptions and paragraphs to their liking, making it easier for them to understand and enjoy the book and its contents.
If there is any indication Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals will grab an assortment of readers it is the beginning of each section; Ghigna chose to begin each with a poem. His poems are hilarious and should put any reader in the mood for what follows: page after page of odd, unusual, gross, and downright cool animals. I love when poetry is included in non-poetry books, if for no other reason than to get kids thinking about the role of poetry in their lives. As an example, here is Ghigna’s poem for the section “Gross.”
“GROSS IS USED INSTEAD OF YUCK
FOR WORDS LIKE POOP AND PUS,
BUT ALL THESE ANIMALS AGREE—
IT’S ONLY GROSS TO US!”
I think kids will enjoy these humorous introductions.
Kids will like Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals. It is almost a guarantee once they see some of these strange animals with odd, interesting features, lifestyles, and appearances. If you want to scare your teenage sister, open up this book to any of the 200 photographs, such as the spread with insects and other bugs adorning its pages. These two spreads shown in this review do not do justice to what is contained between the covers of Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals.
Animal books, especially those from National Geographic and Animal Planet tend to captivate young minds. When well-done (layout, information, photographs or illustrations), these animal books become popular with kids. Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals fits into this category. If you are interested in animals, the world you live in, and learning about and seeing the strange life among us, Animal Planet’s Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals will fill you and your children’s needs. Highly recommended.
ANIMAL PLANET STRANGE, UNUSUAL, GROSS, AND COOL ANIMALS. Text copyright © 2016 by Charles Ghigna. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Liberty Street, New York, NY.
Find Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals on Goodreads HERE.
Reprinted with permission from ANIMAL PLANET STRANGE, UNUSUAL, GROSS, AND COOL ANIMALS © 2016 by Charles Ghigna, Liberty Street, an imprint of Time Inc. Books.
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Animal Planet Strange, Unusual, Gross, and Cool Animals
Written by Charles Ghigna
Liberty Street 10/11/2016