12 Books Chock-Full of Weird Science & Gross Facts To Fascinate the Whole Family | Summer Reading 2021

Nothing like bugs that fizz, animals with mucus-skin, and slimy information about digestion to get the whole family in on these weird science lessons!

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Nothing like bugs that fizz, animals with mucus-skin, and slimy information about digestion to get the whole family in on these weird science lessons!

Gut Garden: A Journey into the Wonderful World of Your Microbiome by Katie Brosnan. illus. by author. Cicada. ISBN 9781908714725.

In an effective combination of clear science writing and entertaining illustrations, this exploration of the body’s gut garden opens with a description of the main categories of microbes (fungi, bacteria, viruses) followed by a brief explanation of the role that microbes play in the world.

You Smell!: (and so does everything else) by Clive Gifford. illus. by Pete Gamlen. Laurence King. ISBN 9781786273932.

Gifford provides a cornucopia of information for curious readers. The book’s organization is eye-catching and practical from the first turn of the page.

What Breathes Through Its Butt? Mind-Blowing Science Questions Answered by Emily Grossman. illus. by Alice Bowsher. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781547604524.

Grossman provides an outstanding question-and-answer science book filled with delightful facts that will engage young readers. Thirty questions with four optional answers are featured. On the path to the correct answer, the author shares additional facts about related topics, all of which lead to the mind-blowing correct answer. 

Gross as a Snot Otter by Jess Keating. illus. by David DeGrand. Knopf. ISBN 9781524764500.

Snot otters use their mucus-covered skin to repel infections and predators. Siberian chipmunks rub their fur with the dead flesh of snakes to scare away predators. Facts such as these fill Keating’s latest title in the “The World of Weird Animals” series.

Insect Superpowers: 18 Real Bugs That Smash, Zap, Hypnotize, Sting, and Devour! by Kate Messner. illus. by Jillian Nickell. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452139104.

Messner celebrates 18 insects’ “superpowers” using large, informative comic-book style sequences, pithy chapter titles (“Great Imposters,” “Big and Tough,” “Masters of Chemical Weaponry”), clever phrases (“the malevolent mimic,” “the great glue shooter,” “the sonar smasher”), and large-print exclamations. Highly recommended for browsing and enjoyment.

Death Eaters: Meet Nature's Scavengers by Kelly Milner Halls. Millbrook. ISBN 9781512482003.

Readers who relish the gross side of life (and death) will find this title to their liking. Halls begins with the death of a wild boar, and describes what and how the process of decomposition takes place. Excellent color photos of excellent quality vary in size, including full-page. Get ready for many "oohs" and "yucks" from readers.

Who Gives a Poop?: Surprising Science from One End to the Other by Heather L. Montgomery. illus. by Iris Gottlieb. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781547603473.

Young readers interested in the “ick” factor will appreciate Montgomery’s exploration of all things scatological. Chapter titles include “Hunk of Tongue” and “Poo-Poo Choo-Choo.” Her descriptive, engaging prose makes readers feel as though they are front-row companions on her scientific journey.

Your Amazing Digestion from Mouth through Intestine by Joanne Settel. illus. by Steve Björkman. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781481486880.

Rhyming one’s way through the digestive system is a lot more casual than most researchers might expect, but Settel’s work is both engaging to read and chock-full of facts.

ICK!: Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses by Melissa Stewart. National Geographic. ISBN 9781426337475.

Stewart explains insect behaviors and traits in detail and provides context to how these seemingly off-putting habits allow these animals and creatures to live and survive. Double-page spreads describe each animal and a fascinating (but gross) aspect to their everyday lives. 

The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body’s Marvelous Microbes by Kim Sung-Hwa & Kwon Su-jin. illus. by Kim Ryung-eon. What On Earth. ISBN 9781913750169.

The world is hyperaware of germs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all germs are bad. Some are much needed to help human bodies function properly and fight off bad germs. This book is told from the point of view of a microbe living inside a “Good Germ Hotel” (a nine-year-old girl). The text features colorful, cartoonish, and detailed illustrations.

Wow in the World: The How and Wow of the Human Body; From Your Tongue to Your Toes and All the Guts in Between by Mindy Thomas & Guy Raz. illus. by Jack Teagle. HMH. (Wow in the World). ISBN 9780358306634.

Much like the Wow in the World podcast, the book is fast-paced and lighthearted yet informative and intriguing. Each area of the body is described in a brief discussion complemented by comic-style illustrations. Readers will be entertained to learn why sweat smells and who holds the record for largest nose and longest ear hair while obtaining advice on personal health and hygiene. 

Gross Science Experiments: 60 Smelly, Scary, Silly Tests To Disgust Your Friends and Family by Emma Vanstone. Page Street. Oct. 2020. 160p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781645671145.

The activities in this title are grouped into chapters: “Blood and Brains,” “Baffling Bodies,” “Stinky Smells,” “Joking Around,” “Disgusting Diseases,” “Gross Foods,” “All About the Poo,” “Bugs and Grubs,” and “Gross History.” Readers can make a scab, bug bath bombs, and more.

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