Extreme Animals : The Toughest Creatures on Earth
by Davies, Nicola; Layton, Neal (ILT)

From emperor penguins in the South Pole, to the squash-proof creatures of the sea, an introduction to natural history reveals, after much deliberation and competition, the toughest animal in the world.

Nicola Davies graduated with a degree in zoology before becoming a writer, producer, and presenter of radio and television programs. She lives in Somerset, England.

Neal Layton received distinction for his M.A. in illustration from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, in London, and has been illustrating books for children ever since. He lives in Portsmouth, England.

/*Starred Review*/ "We humans are such a bunch of wimps . . . all over the planet there are animals that relish the sort of conditions that would kill a human quicker than you could say 'coffin'." Davies' chatty, funny text and Layton's colorful cartoons illustrations, as playful and immediate as they were in Davies' Poop (2004), will pull kids into the fascinating book about survival. Each double-page spread makes a wealth of information accessible to kids-facts about particular mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bacteria, and more, which thrive in habitats ranging from polar wastelands to deserts and volcanoes. Cold-blooded frogs turn themselves into "frog popsicles" by making "ice grow between all the important bits of their bodies"; sperm whales store oxygen in their blood and muscles; microorganisms called thermophiles live near volcanoes or at the bottom of the sea and eat chemicals such as sulfur and iron; and fleas can resist gravity that would break human bones. Comparisons with humans add to the fun, whether the subject is reptiles' special pee or a camel's yo-yo temperature. Exciting biology for the elementary-school classroom. ((Reviewed December 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Fresh from their dive into Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable (2004), Davies and Layton introduce a menagerie of survivors who have adapted to the worst conditions that nature can dish out. With plenty of Layton's daffy, digitally colored cartoons to add both detail and flights of fancy ("Live Naked" proclaims a polar bear's signboard), Davies conveys readers from the Arctic's far-below-zero temperatures to the 200-plus degree heat near a volcano's rim, from sunless "black smokers" on the sea bottom to harsh deserts. She not only identifies denizens of each clime, but also explains how, for instance, Emperor penguins keep their feet warm, wood frogs can survive being frozen and thawed and camels prevent their sensitive brains from overheating. In the end, the author presents persuasive reasons for awarding the "Truly Toughest Extreme Animal" trophy not to humans ("We humans are such a bunch of wimps!"), but to the lowly water bear. Fine fare for younger naturalists. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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