Friend or Foe: The Whole Truth about Animals People Love to Hate

illus. by David Anderson. 48p. bibliog. index. Owlkids. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771470643.
Gr 3–5—Kaner takes on peoples' fears and misconceptions about a variety of creepy-crawly, shudder-inducing animals, including cockroaches, mosquitoes, bats, spiders, wolves, and more. In each case, she demonstrates that while there are negative aspects to all of these, they each contribute something useful to humans or to the environment. For instance, while rats carry disease, African giant pouched rats are great mine detectors, saving lives in previously war-torn countries. Leeches suck blood, but attaching leeches to a wound "stops blood clotting and keeps blood flowing." Bats can carry rabies and other diseases, but they eat millions of mosquitoes and fertilize fields with their guano. And those nasty, biting mosquitoes, which carry malaria and other diseases, are great pollinators, and their larvae help clean up water systems by eating decaying plant matter. This is a fascinating book that suffers only from cartoonish illustrations that sometimes anthropomorphize the animals covered. However, the intended audience is not likely to be put off by the visuals, and this book will be of interest to some reluctant readers.
VERDICT Recommended as a secondary purchase for school and public libraries.

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