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.
This book reminded me of the science books Klutz Press put out in the ’90s, such as The Explorabook. It has that same fun yet informative tone. Hearst defines an unusual creature as “an animal that looks, sounds, smells, or acts in a way that makes you stop and say, ‘Whoa, dude! What’s up with that?'” Some of the more well-known of them are from Australia: the platypus, the bilby, the echidna, the wombat. Some of the lesser known ones are also from Australia, like the Giant Gippsland earthworm, which “averages 3 feet long and 1 inch in diameter.” Hearst describes 50 animals, 22 of which I knew of already. All the others I’d never heard of before, so I can imagine a fifth-grader having a blast with this. (Also there is a diagram of the horny toad shooting blood out of its eyes, which is a draw for them.) One of my favorites was the bar-headed goose–it flies over the Himalayas on its migration from India to Tibet. This book would be easy to booktalk–pick any page, really, they’re all weird yet cool! Hearst includes a list of ways to help save these endangered animals, including tips and resources. There is also an index and table of contents for research.
Fifth graders through adults would enjoy a book like Unusual Creatures. It is good for animal or endangered species reports, or for anybody who likes science.
Being a musician, Hearst made an instrumental album for 14 of the animals, using unusual instruments like the glass armonica and the tubax. You can hear clips and learn more here. SLJ did an interview with him.
This week, the Nonfiction Monday roundup is at The LibrariYAn.