Deadliest Animals!
Get ready to be totally grossed out as you discover the incredibly icky ways animals eat, make their homes, and defend themselves.
From ants to zebras, you’ll discover some seriously strange animal behaviors. Slurp up soupy insides with houseflies, spit sticky saliva to build nests with birds, and fend off predators with poop-flinging caterpillars and farting snakes. And that’s just the tip of the dung pile! These yucky habits may seem surprising to us, but they’re totally normal for these animals. In fact, their survival depends on them.
Lively text, incredible photography, and all kinds of fun features make this book a must read for curious kids. Ready to chew some fingernails with cockroaches? Dive into the disgusting world of animals!
Behind the Book
“The story behind this book traces all the way back to a three-week research trip I took to East Africa in 1996. During the safari, I watched with fascination as a mother black-backed jackal upchucked her partially-digested dinner to feed her three feisty pups. When the little ones had eaten their fill, she scarfed down the mushy leftovers.
“The next day, while observing a gerenuk standing on its tippy toes as it ate, our guide told us that it’s one of more than 150 mammals (including cows) that regurgitate their food and re-munch their lunch as many as four times. It’s their way of eking every possible nutrient from the tough plants they eat.
“Right then and there, I started making a list of animals that vomit their vittles as a survival strategy. Over time, I added more than a dozen insects, birds, and mammals to that list.
“But why stop there? I also made lists of creatures that use poop, pee, spit, snot, and other bodily substances in the most surprising ways. Eventually, I had more than enough information for a 112-page book.”
“Ready for a slide through some of the animal kingdom’s more revolting behaviors? Cue the mucus! Arrays of big, bright nature photos showing more than 50 creatures ranging from cute, fuzzy cottontails and baby pandas to the ever popular Pacific hagfish and evocatively named pustulated carrion beetle (not to mention—but let’s—the bone-eating snot flower worm) anchor this gleeful introduction to many of nature’s poop eaters, slime exuders, projectile vomiters, carrion recyclers, and butt squirters. As if it were necessary, regular sidebars offer “Extra Ick!” to a commentary punctuated by the occasional ‘Yuck!’ or ‘Now, that’s disgusting!’ Stewart happily brings on the gross as she trumpets the ‘Toxic Toots’ of the beaded lacewing’s larva, buzzes over flesh fly maggots that eat out harlequin toads from the inside (‘That’s right: In this scenario, the toad croaks’), and flings out stomach-churning facts about “vile vittles” and the many uses of spit.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“Double-page spreads describe each animal and a fascinating (but gross) aspect to their everyday lives. High-resolution photographs offer visual appeal, and the text is organized into bite-size pieces of information that are pleasingly arranged on the page. The colors accenting the photos are bright and bold. A glossary, selected sources, credits, and an index are also featured. VERDICT: An excellent addition to elementary school libraries.”
School Library Journal
“Stewart’s writing is terrific! The general descriptions are wonderfully done, snappy, full of groan-worthy puns but also clear, informative, and attention-holding. … There is plenty of disgusting icky facts that kids will gleefully read and share with everyone around them.” 
Nonfiction Monday
“Stewart understands that expository books like Ick! have value in the classroom during book talks, instruction, or as mentor texts in writing workshop. By the conclusion, educators might find that the genius of Ick! will encourage a reader with ‘a curious mind—and a strong stomach’ to become enthusiastic about science. A highly worthwhile read!”
Mostly about Nonfiction
“Spread by spread in ICK!, Melissa Stewart introduces us to animal behaviors we may find bizarre, but are crucial to survival. Each page's eye-popping colors and real-life photos will be sure to lead readers to inquiry and cause curiosity. Equal fun and gross!”

—Dylan Teut, Plum Creek Children's Literature Festival Director,

Concordia University, Seward, NE

Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses
by Melissa Stewart
National Geographic
for Kids, 2020
for ages 8-12
ISBN 978-1-42633-746-8
Purchase this book at your local independent bookseller or
Melissa Stewart's Ick!
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