JOHNSON, Rebecca L. Zombie Makers: . 48p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. CIP. Millbrook. Oct. 2012. RTE $30.60. ISBN 978-0-7613-8633-9; ebook $22.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-0125-9. LC 2011046181.
Gr 5-8–Ratchet up your ick-factor and practice your eeyuw’s because Johnson’s researched text will reveal enough details to cause squeamish (or highly imaginative) readers to quail. Hairworms that cause crickets to commit suicide; jewel wasps that turn cockroaches into walking pantries for their larvae; and a fungus that drives its ant host to find the perfect launch for its sporing body are just a few of the “zombie-makers” Johnson introduces. The readable text is based on telephone calls and emails with scientists in the field as well as the published articles listed in the bibliography. The author is careful to include a “Science Behind the Story” explanation for each of the featured parasites, quoting the research scientist whenever possible. Color photos reinforce the ickiness, as do splotches of red, green, and black creeping across the pages like patches of mold. Readers needing a more personal jolt may prefer Nicola Davies’s more gentle (but still nicely gross) What’s Eating You?: Parasites–The Inside Story (Candlewick, 2007) or Brian Ward’s more prosaic Microscopic Life in the Home (Smart Apple Media, 2004). Scientific in its approach, this slender book gives children a look at scientific research in real time, and also shows how little we truly know in a less-than-lovely field.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY