Davies, Nicola. Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth. Illustrated by Neal Layton. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2006.
Reviewed by Rebecca Stuhr
Many animals are tougher than humans! Those of you who pride yourself for participation in extreme sports should take a half-hour break from your training and exertions to read Davies’s book on extreme animals. You have to read all the way to the end (p. 58) to find out which creature wins the toughest-animal-on-earth award but here’s a hint—it can be boiled, frozen to absolute zero, can survive a vacuum or pressure six times the pressure at the deepest part of the ocean and it isn’t a cockroach. Don’t skip to the end of the book though, because if you do, you’ll miss the fascinating facts about sponges (this reviewers favorite!), click beetles, thermophiles, and wood frogs (a close second). You won’t learn about “squash factor,” brain cooling mechanisms, collapsible lungs, and animal antifreeze. If you already know about animals that are “Truly Tough,” then you might want to read this book anyway for Neal Layton's informative and entertaining illustrations. You might imagine drawing some of these pictures yourself—but their somewhat slapdash appearance is more than made up for by the humorous and inventive way Layton interprets Davies’s extreme animal facts. Humans, please sit down and make way for the truly extreme animal survivors. This book is cataloged as juvenile literature, but reading this book will provide pleasurable and edifying reading for all ages. Recommend it to your local public library! (Read up to the next review to find it out why Laura Byrd would have done well to read this book before embarking on her trip to the Antarctic).