Kirkus Review of Our New Book—Don’t Mess With Me: The Strange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures

Available from Tilbury House (207-582-1899), bookstores, or contact Paul Erickson at 978-979-0029 or

Kirkus Review

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).

Steven Webster, marine biologist and co-founder, Monterey Bay Aquarium
It’s great! Beautifully written for a younger audience, and yet packed with really good science-based info. I learned a lot.

Roy Caldwell, Professor of Integrated Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Most Impressive!

School Library Journal
VERDICT: An eye-catching and pleasingly gross introduction to venomous sea creatures, with extremely helpful back matter.

Amazon Reader Reviews
If you are a fan of fish you will love this special guide about venomous sea creatures. Parents and teachers can use this guide to teach science and sea-life. There are plenty of resources on the back pages too.

The photographs were absolutely fascinating, especially when seemingly pretty looking creatures eat their prey whole. Most of these creatures are things I have never heard of, but with a child fascinated by marine biology, this is definitely a useful book.

One thing that was great with this book is that there was additional information for older readers in boxes and side notes, many marked with “how nature works.” For example, one box talked about how a scientist is experimenting with cone snail venom as a pain reliever.

Youth Services Book Review
The author’s words are precise, arranged in a variety of text boxes with interesting questions that lead the reader to think critically. This volume has the potential to spark a variety of interests in today’s STEAM environments in school.