Animal Science

Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable
Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth
What's Eating You?: Parasites - The Inside Story
Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little
Talk, Talk, Squawk!: How and Why Animals Communicate
Deadly!: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Creatures on Earth

Nicola Davies

Walker Books 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012
A book review by Danny Yee © 2020 http://dannyreviews.com/
Looking at different aspects of animal anatomy and behaviour, Nicola Davies' six Animal Science books offer a lovely combination of the engaging and the informative which would work for children from kindergarten to later primary school. They are fairly even split between illustration and text.

Immediate engagement, even for quite small children, is provided by the topics and the book titles and by Neal Layton's coloured line-drawings. With talking animals and funny captions, these make no pretence at seriousness, or accuracy in scale or detail, but capture or highlight some key ideas from the facing text.

The language in the text is kept simple, but Davies makes a serious attempt here to explain some fundamental concepts as well as providing some details. This is reasonably substantial and I would expect most adults to learn something from reading these books. (I found no errors, or even any explanations or turns of phrase that seemed infelicitous or misleading, which makes a nice change from the run of children's science books.)

In general Davies does a good job of integrating broader ideas with details and examples.

"Ectoparasites, like ticks, fleas and lice, can weaken an animal and make it easy prey, so good grooming can mean the difference between life and death. Grooming — with teeth and beaks, paws and claws — can do a really good job of combing out and squishing up to 90 per cent of parasites. But it needs to be done regularly — some animals spend up to six hours every day grooming. What's more, many also groom each other to make sure that awkward spots they can't reach themselves are kept parasite-free." (Who's Eating You?)
"Fifty tonnes of poo falls on the floor of Bracken Cave in the southern United States every day from the bottoms of the 20 million bats that live there. ...
This makes bat caves such a good home that some animals never leave: Niah Cave in Borneo has a kind of poo-eating earwig and a species of earwig-eating gecko that are found nowhere else on Earth!" (Poo)

Just the Right Size is the most abstract of the six books, attempting to explain the core idea of allometry, the scaling differences between size, area and weight/volume. This is simplified by just considering an organism twice the length, with four times the area and eight times the weight or volume, and younger children who can't even follow that may still appreciate the general idea.

All told this is a lovely set of books, which I highly recommend either for school or home.

Note: Extreme Animals is also published as Survivors. This may have Celsius temperature measurements instead of Fahrenheit ones.

February 2020

External links:
Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
What's Eating You?: Parasites - The Inside Story
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Just the Right Size
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Talk, Talk, Squawk!
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Deadly!
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
- share this review on Facebook or Twitter
Related reviews:
- more children's nonfiction
- more animals + zoology
%T Poo
%S A Natural History of the Unmentionable
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2004
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781406301878
%P 61pp

%T Extreme Animals
%S The Toughest Creatures on Earth
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2006
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781844287345
%P 61pp

%T What's Eating You?
%S Parasites - The Inside Story
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2007
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781406300956
%P 61pp

%T Just the Right Size
%S Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2009
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781406304930
%P 61pp

%T Talk, Talk, Squawk!
%S How and Why Animals Communicate
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2011
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781406321180
%P 61pp

%T Deadly!
%S The Truth About the Most Dangerous Creatures on Earth
%Y Animal Science
%A Davies, Nicola
%Q Layton, Neal
%I Walker Books
%D 2012
%O hardcover
%G ISBN-13 9781406327137
%P 61pp