A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures — Review

Thought for the Day:

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or ten pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
~ Lawrence Block ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

All of our characters have backstory, but how it should be handled is pretty important. HERE Karen Dionne has an article in Writer’s Digest on How to Weave Backstory into Your Novel Seamlessly.

Melissa Donovan has a terrific post HERE on Writing Forward with 42 Fiction Writing Tips for Novelists.

If you ever need to do a little research (and you know we all should), Katherine House at Nonfiction Fest has just what you need HERE. It is a wonderful post with all kinds of resources you can use. Bookmark this one.

I got caught up on my classwork this week and am looking forward to the last two weeks of classes in this term. I wonder some days if I really have it in me to be a picture book author. My mind keeps wondering to my middle-grade novels, and I’m itching to get back to work on them. I think during the break between terms I will make a big push toward getting an agent. I’ve been doing some research to find agents who are open to new clients and have an interest in historical fiction. There are some out there. Fingers crossed. As I sat watching the Sunday morning news shows, I wondered how this terrible conflagration in Europe can end. Last week I saw ordnance being thown at a nuclear power plant and worried for my friends in Europe. I so admire the Ukrainian people and their amazing courage. So I send a little money to help them and wish there was more I could do. We live in interesting times.

Last week I offered a gently-read paperback copy of Famous Artists in History by Kelly Milner Halls to one of you. This week, our winner is Antoinette Truglio Martin. Congratulations, Antoinette! If you don’t know her, Antoinette is an author of middle-grade historical fiction. You can read more about her and her books on her site HERE. Antoinette, I will get your book out to you soon.

I have to admit I have an absolute fascination with the animal world, especially the odd ones and the dangerous ones, so I was really happy to see A Curious Collecion of Dangerous Animals by Sami Bayly on the review list for the San Francisco Book Review, and I requested it immediately. This is a deliciously fun book and the middle-grade set will love every page. I know I did. And that cover. How could you not grab that book? I’m going to have to check out some of her other books. Here is the review I wrote for SFBR.

There is no end to animal books, so bringing out a new one, especially at the middle-grade level, requires something really unique in order to stand out. This book takes a good look at sixty animals that are dangerous and scary. The Blue Dragon, a sea slug that is beautiful and small, has a sting that will cause welts, swelling, increased heart rate, and vomiting, while the Golden Poison Frog is so toxic that if it licks a person, it can kill him or her, and its skin has enough toxins to kill twenty people!

Sami Bayly

Each of the animals covered is quite dangerous and interesting, and each has its own spread with a close-up illustration, a paragraph with general information about the animal, its specific danger and why it’s so dangerous, what its conservation status is, what it eats, where it lives, and fun facts about it. The writing is lively and conversational. The illustrations are excellent and realistic, and the graphic design of the pages is attractive and designed to hold the interest of youngsters.

Once kids (and adults!) get their hands on this wonderful book, they will likely read it over and over. This is a real winner.

There won’t be a giveaway this week. This one stays with me. Please don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

10 thoughts on “A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures — Review”

  1. I agree; Katherine House’s post at NF Fest was a treasure-trove of information! Good luck on the agent search – have faith that your writing will find the right person. As for Dangerous Animals: yikes! That’s a scary cover!


  2. “The Scream” really gave me a laugh. I had to google the original picture because the dog seemed so real!
    Dangerous Animals sounds so interesting. I know your local school will make good use of it.


  3. Middle grade kids will love this book. Finding a different approach to stories about animals is never easy but the author has created a super idea. Thanks for featuring this one on MMGM.

    I appreciate your time in uncovering what looks like another great set of links (especially the one on Backstory). I’ll get to them later this week.


  4. This is perfect for MG kids — one of my greats is old enough for it! And, I imagine that adult animal lovers will find it of interest. The layout sounds interesting, too.
    Writing PBs isn’t easy because of the word count. I can see you as writing MG. I hope you find/land an agent. There are so many ways to meet them through blogs. Thanks for sharing!


  5. My students like some animal books, but much prefer photographs to illustrations. Since we don’t have any classes that study animals, I haven’t been purchasing any animal books recently. Interesting how other middle grade students ARE interested– the book looks promising.


  6. I think this sounds a great book. I find a lot inspiration for writing in nature and animals in particular, especially the rare ones! Thanks for the review -and best of luck with your agent hunt!


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