Reviews for Poop : A Natural History of the Unmentionable


Booklist Reviews 2004 October #2
Gr. 2-5. Children who have been introduced to the concept that everybody poops by the book of the same name can now do a text analysis of the topic in a volume that explores the stuff by color, usefulness, and size. Thankfully sticking mostly to animals, Davies begins with "a tour of poop" that illustrates the wide variety of feces. (Again, thankfully, this is done with illustrations, not photographs.) She then goes on to discuss how it's produced, what animals do with it (use it to identify other animals, track prey, consume it for nourishment), and what humans occasionally do with animal feces (build houses with it, use it for fuel). The very informative text uses humor but mostly plays it straight. The clever ink-and-watercolor cartoons go for big laughs, illustrating such things as why sheep release hard, dry pellets, while cows, well . . . don't. There are several pictures about animals eating their (and other animals') feces, but the picture with the baby elephant in his high chair--well, suffice it to say kids will love that one. ((Reviewed October 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
Davies explores poop--what it is, how it is different from animal to animal, and why it has varying consistencies. She tells how animals use poop, how naturalists study poop, and how paleontologists analyze fossilized poop. Layton's cartoon illustrations with conversational balloons comically translate the text into everyday language and situations. Glos., ind. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #5
Working from the educational premise that one takes children from what they know to what they don't know, Davies explores poop -- or, as she puts it, "big jobs, number two, [or] feces (to give it one of its proper names)." She reminds children what it is, how it is different from animal to animal, and why it has varying consistencies. She tells how animals use poop (for eating, tracking, or marking territory), how naturalists study poop to determine animal diets, and how paleontologists analyze fossilized poop to learn about prehistoric animals. Layton's cartoon illustrations with conversational balloons comically translate the text into everyday language and situations, with an elephant spoon-feeding poop to her baby (politely sitting in a highchair) or the "Who ya gonna call...?" advertisement for dung beetles to clean up piles and piles of poop. Playful, but filled with information, scientific work, and helpful maps and diagrams, this book takes poop out of the sewers and into the scientific community where it belongs. Appended with an index and a glossary. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 August #2
Dropping pellets of fact about its nature, production, variety, and manifold uses, Davies builds a good case for the idea that dung is "probably the most useful stuff on the planet." He analyzes styles, sizes, uses, and smells in fascinating chapters that cover the territory. Though Layton's crudely drawn cartoon illustrations provide more jocular side commentary than actual information, this breezy introduction will give young readers with a certain tolerance for (or attraction to) the yuckier side of natural history the scoop on poop--at least in the animal kingdom. For more on the human side, pair this with Susan Goodman's The Truth About Poop, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith (p. 393). (Nonfiction. 7-9)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #5
Insects don't urinate, but they do produce "frass." Otters elude human observers, but trackers study them by "their droppings, or spraints." "There are as many good stories about poop as there are kinds of animals," writes zoology buff Davies (Bat Loves the Night), and this informative book conveys that variety and boosts the vocabulary too. The author names the ingredients in birds' two-tone whitewash, explores the tangible qualities of cow dung and tells why peccaries (wild pigs) favor group "latrines." Resourceful termites cultivate mushrooms on their waste, and blue whales, after eating pink shrimp, "do huge pink poop that looks like giant blobs of strawberry ice cream breaking up in the water." (Ice cream lovers may opt for vanilla after this.) Davies lingers on the principle that "one animal's poop is another animal's lunch," and connects this to the circle of life: "Nature has been recycling for billions of years." Unfortunately, the best surprises get buried in the blocky, squeezed paragraph design and unemphasized gray type. Next to the matter-of-fact narration, Layton's (The Sunday Blues) slapdash cartoons mine the scatological humor of the subject. His scribbly line, soggy brown palette and messy handwriting aptly suggest the macho abandon of male hippos who like "spraying their poop... in all directions." This naturalist account complements Susan Goodman's The Truth About Poop (reviewed June 7), which offers fecal facts from human history. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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