Branzei, Sylvia. Animal Grossology. New York: Price Stern Sloan, 2004. Print.
Annotation: Have you ever heard of vomit munchers, blood slurpers, owl pellets, slime makers and dookie lovers? Have you ever wondered why your pet dog likes to eat poop? If your answer is ‘yes’, then this is the book for you…however, you may want to consider skipping lunch...possibly dinner, and perhaps that midnight snack – especially if a fly has sat on it.
Justification for Nomination: This is one gross book – but it’s great! Sylvia Branzei hit the nail on the head...or should I say, fly on the head, when she created this series about all things gross and disgusting concerning animals, and some bugs, too. Oh, and she also has other books about Grossology, and you should check them out, especially if you have a reluctant reader. Here’s why. The books are fun and informative. The gross information included about the things animals do is accurate and factual, so there’s learning to be had here. In the midst of the text (which I might add is interesting in and of itself, with large and varying fonts), there are terrifically gross illustrations created by Jack Keely. The illustrations are cartoonish and large, taking up random portions of the pages. The text is mingled in a block type format. Smaller notations within illustrations give further background and detailed information about the subject.
For instance, let’s talk about the housefly, one of life’s most pesky insects. I might add that you may find yourself driving to the hardware store to pick up some fly tape after reading it, so beware. In the ‘all about flies’ section, we have an illustration of a housefly puking up on chocolate chip cookie; the fly does this so the cookie portion he’s thrown up on will dissolve slightly, so it can be easier to slurp up. To a fly, it’s all about creating food malts to be sucked through its straw-like tongue. Yum. I mean, yuck! A close-up photograph of a fly is included, which looks a lot like something you’d see in an Aliens movie. There are facts mixed up in this, too, and helpful hints about how you can keep your food safe, along with your health, which may be compromised if you happen to eat something the fly has thrown up on containing it’s last meal, which regrettably, could have been doggie poo. So, good advice is to be learned here!
Okay, so you get it. So why nominate such a gross book? I am not sure it deserves an award, as the subject material is not necessarily award-worthy in comparison to other nonfiction works like Hitler’s Youth, or Hole in My Life, which are, I believe, worthy of greater recognition. However, I do feel that this book is a real opportunity to get efferent and reluctant readers to give reading a second chance. It has the visual components that keep the stories moving along, and the illustrations are equal with the text, in that you see a great amount of pictures and illustrations. The text information is interesting, fun, and formatted well. The words used are something young readers will enjoy; all things gross and disgusting about vomit, blood, dookie and poop are used here. I would say this is kind of a “boy read,” but I happen to know a young female reader who thought it was hilarious, so it seems to appeal to both genders. Animal Grossology is a fun read for young adults, and adults. It contains information about all types of animals, and the gross habits these sometimes cute and cuddly creatures have. If you have a reluctant or efferent reader, this may be the book to change that perspective. This book can pull a reader through, and before they or you know it -- the book is done...and mission accomplished.
Genre Category: Nonfiction/Animals/Habits.