“ICK! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses” by Melissa Stewart is a book that will astonish adults and delight children who never realized all the myriad synonyms for the word “poop.” This non-fiction magazine-type book published by National Geographic Kids is filled with glorious photos and ample information about animals whose personal habits will make many of us blanch. Really.
The Table of Contents divides the information into three parts: Disgusting Dinners, Disgusting Dwellings, and Disgusting Defenses. There is also an introduction and conclusion, with a glossary and an index. For a classroom teacher, having a book that will intrigue and entertain children and that includes all these important nonfiction text features is priceless.
This morning, my almost four-year-old grandson looked at the title page and pointed to the shark. “That’s the sand tiger shark,” he informed me. “They eat their brothers and sisters.” Although I had read it to him the day before, he remembered more of the details than did I! He was correct. One of the featured disgusting animals is the sand tiger shark. The subheading is “snacking on siblings” and begins, “Yep, it’s true. Sand tiger shark brothers and sisters fight to the death. And the winners eat the losers for lunch.” And we find out (gulp), that it happens between the baby sharks when they are tiny pups still inside the two compartments the mom has for her babies. They eat each other until there are just two left – one in each compartment. Also of interest is that there is no predator to threaten the sand tiger shark (except siblings), and they can reach 350 pounds! This is one of the few disgusting animals wherein the disgusting part doesn’t involve poop.
Poop, dung, scat, frass (caterpillar poop), cecotropes (rabbit poop), droppings, excrement, and more are words that will enhance any child’s vocabulary. They will be proud to share their newfound knowledge with their friends and family.
Animals with fabulous names like the pustulated carrion beetle, the bone-eating snot flower worm, and the tongue-eating louse are just a few of the truly disgusting names involved. It’s not just about poop, either. Urine, vomit, and spit also make up a good proportion of the defenses, in addition to lethal farts and more. Kids will eat this stuff up!
Extra-fascinating is that some of these animals live just outside our window. In fact, some live just outside our eyelids! A red-spotted purple butterfly has been hanging outside my house for weeks. And most of us have seen a cute opossum in our yards. They help us by eating ticks and other nasties from our yard!
This is perfect for any classroom bookshelf or library. It will keep kids busy for hours as they delight in the disgusting details.
Please note: This review is based on the final magazine provided by the publisher, National Geographic Kids, for review purposes.