KIRKUS REVIEW / Don’t Mess With Me: The Strange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures

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Kirkus Review

Author: Paul Erickson

Photographer: Andrew Martinez

Publisher: Tilbury House                                       

Pages: 48

Price ( Hardcover ): $17.95                                  

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-88448-551-3             

Category: Informational

Series: How Nature Works

A sampling of the more than 12,000 varieties of stinging creatures that live in the ocean. Striking photographs and informative text introduce venomous ocean-dwellers in six different phyla: cnidarians, mollusks, annelids, arthropods, echinoderms, and chordates. This organization by increasing complexity is what’s used in the bulk of the text and in the backmatter, which offers fast facts about the 28 different species described in this tempting title.

After opening with a description of an iconic example—the greater blue-ringed octopus, whose bite can kill a person—Erickson clears up the usual confusion between “poisonous” and “venomous” and presents a detailed explanation of how anemones, sea jellies, and coral can sting.

He goes on, now following the phylum order, to introduce a variety of other sea creatures including bloodworms, the blind remipede (the first known venomous crustacean), the crown of thorns sea star, the bluespotted stingray, the reef stonefish, and the lionfish. Most spreads include a boxed text headed “How Nature Works,” which may describe open scientific questions, settled theories, or applications.

Erickson doesn’t pander to his readers: He uses appropriate terminology. Martinez’s clearly captioned photographs show the creatures in their habitats; there are also diagrams and microscope images. Colorful pages and varied design add interest. Though the text in this entry in an admirable series may be challenging for young readers, the subject has guaranteed kid appeal. (timeline, further resources, glossary) (Nonfiction 9-14).