Mutants in Nature

9781607537809. ea vol: 32p. (Freaky Nature). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Amicus. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $9.99.
Gr 2–4—This series draws parallels among animals and superheroes and monsters, with limited success. A few sentences of text, accompanied by a photograph, explore unusual features or behaviors. Some connections, such as the blood-sucking practices of mosquitoes and vampire bats, fit neatly. Others are more tenuous, such as when the platypus's sixth sense is compared to Spider-Man's. At times analogies are stretched to the point of inaccuracy: a honey badger's skin is not "as tough as Iron Man's armor." Jumping quickly from one animal to the next results in some lack of clarity. Though many photographs are visually impressive, several are standard full-body photos that don't highlight the animal's featured ability. Added facts appear in a question-and-answer format at the bottom of some spreads.
VERDICT There are plenty of fascinating bits of animal information throughout the series, particularly in Zombies and Super Powers, but the sometimes scattered presentation limits its general usefulness.
Bright, well-reproduced color photographs and simply written texts will make this series attractive to science-minded elementary school students. After relating the topic to attention-grabbing material ("Mutants are not just in comic books. In real life, mutations make strange plants and animals"), Larson dispenses well-chosen facts about each "freaky" occurrence in natural life. Readers may be inspired to research further. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind. Review covers these Freaky Nature titles: Mutants in Nature, Super Powers in Nature, Vampires in Nature, and Zombies in Nature.

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