Deadliest Animals on the Planet

­National Geographic. Dec. 2023. 216p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781426373183.
Gr 2-6–Grizzlies, cougars, pythons, barracudas, and many familiar predators are included in this resource, but it distinguishes itself by also introducing readers to a vast array of lesser-known animals. At over 200 pages, the abundance of information is best absorbed as a browsable read. Each critter is given one page with a paragraph-length entry explaining its method of hunting for prey or warding off enemies with several types of defenses. Teeth, claws, horns, and hooves are among the weapons employed, and the snappy writing highlights the ways that nature supplies wildlife with amazing survival tools. The high-resolution photographs provide a rare up-close look at creatures that humans can’t often observe in the wild. The flannel mouth caterpillar, shocking pink dragon millipede, and assassin bugs are just a few of the animals whose colors and patterns are brilliantly revealed. There is also a sufficient gross factor to keep readers engaged—the bird-dropping spider that looks like bird excrement and the hogfish that turns itself into knots and emits a secret slime. Domesticated creatures, such as house cats, cows, and horses, are also recognized for strengths readers won’t be familiar with. Most animals are presented individually, though several sections look at broader topics, such as poison vs. venom or real predators vs. fakes. An index is provided for this rich compendium of facts.
VERDICT Impressive in its wide coverage of creatures, this stunningly illustrated book should find a welcome spot in all libraries, encouraging readers to do further research.

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