Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Terrifically Odorific! Stinkiest: Twenty Smelly Animals by Steve Jenkins

It's a jungle out there.

Out in the wilds it's "nature, red in tooth and claw," which is a poetic way to say that if you are a wild animal, there's usually someone around who wants to EAT you. To avoid that end, animals make adaptations to avoid that possibility--camouflage, speed, venom, and armor. And some are equipped with weapons of chemical warfare. In other words, they are terrifically odorific!

Skunks are not the only critters capable of stinky spray. In Africa and southern Asia the honey badger is a formidable forager with fabulous claws and fierce courage, but if that fails, it can launch a fetid effluvium that will keep any predator at bay. Other creatures--the pangolin, already an unlikely snack because of its ability to roll up into a scaly ball, can exude a stench that makes them most unsavory as a snack, and others,--the stink bug, the hoopoe bird, the bombadier beetle, the lesser anteater, and the polecat--all are capable of leaving a malodorous miasma in their wake.

The Virginia opossum, like most of its cousins, is a past master of playing dead, rolling on its back with feet sticking up, but this particular one can complete the illusion by exuding the reek of rotten meat. And then there is the European roller chick, who just upchucks disgusting vomit which deters would-be predators who venture too near the nest when the parent birds are away.

Steve Jenkin's latest in his excellent Extreme Animals series, Stinkiest!: 20 Smelly Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) has all the virtues of his popular nature books, realistic and detailed paper collage illustrations, salient text of amazing animal lore, thumbnail maps and relative size icons on each colorful two-page spread, and an appendix with glossary and bibliography, but this one also has the disgusting details will have special appeal to those young readers who go for gross-out nuggets of information to share with their classmates. Even reluctant young readers will find this one nifty, if a bit whiffy!



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