Friday, July 13, 2012


Ruurs, Margriet. Illus. W. Allan Hancock. Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things that Creatures Do. New York: Tundra Books, 2011. ISBN:9780887769733. $19.99 

Amazing Animals shares facts and information about members of the animal kingdom. The categories it addresses are Size and Strength, Reproduction, Communication, Homebuilding, Migration and Navigation, Diet, Hunting, and Defense. Margriet Ruurs selected a variety of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals that, when combined with beautiful oil paintings by W. Allan Hancock, encourages readers to pay just a bit more attention to the world around them. Ruurs states that her hope in compiling the book was that “it will urge [readers] to research and explore the animal world for [themselves],” and her careful selection of beautifully illustrated creatures succeeded in piquing my interest.

Here are some of the things I didn’t know:

1. A black ant can carry ten to twenty times its own weight—this would be like a human carrying a horse. Perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that if every insect in the world was weighed all at once on a scale, they would weigh more than all the other animals.

2. A sturgeon can grow over 16 feet long and live over a century.

3. A coconut crab is a land dweller, and it's gigantic—stretching 1½ feet. Not only that, it can open up coconuts with its pincers. Just hearing this made me squirm.

There were many more things I learned (such as that a slug has three noses) that you will enjoy finding out, too. Along the lines of learning, a reading of Amazing Animals provides a bit of a vocabulary review. Fortunately, there is a glossary at the end of the book that helped me remember that “spiracles” are small breathing holes.

Stephanie Ashley

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