Tag Archives: animals

Venomous by Christie Wilcox

How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered BiochemistryIt’s amazing what tiny little creatures such as the blue-ringed octopus or a little caterpillar in the rainforest can do to you (paralyze you completely and induce hemorrhaging, respectively), without even your realization that you’ve been bitten or pricked! Where Wilcox really shines in Venomous, though, is when she goes beyond show-and-tell and explains what goes on when you graze the back of that caterpillar with its bristly spine: contrary to what might be expected, this little caterpillar actually causes all the coagulants in your blood to become otherwise engaged so that they’re nowhere to be found while the rest of your blood is running rampant. Hence the hemorrhaging.

Venomous is engaging and serves as a great introduction into the world of venom and the creatures that produce them. Wilcox takes you through a variety of different types of venom, organized more or less by chapter, telling you what they do to their (unfortunate/maybe-brought-it-upon-themselves) victims, connecting their incredible abilities to theories as to why certain creatures should have developed the venoms that they did. In fact, Wilcox goes further and delves – relatively lightly, nothing to be afraid of even if you’re not scientifically minded – into the science of what different venoms do. What you get, in effect, is something along the lines of this: what creature generates what sort of venom, which does what to which animal by targeting which areas, likely influenced by which evolutionary pressures. Wilcox breaks it down so that you understand what’s going on – which neurotransmitters are involved? what areas of the body does it affect and why? why might these creatures have evolved as they did? – as you make your way through the rest of the book, keeping all the information intact by making connections throughout.

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Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home by Boyd Varty

cathedral of the wild book coverFounded over eighty years ago by the author’s great-grandfather, Londolozi Game Reserve started as a hunting safari. But in 1973, Boyd’s visionary father, transformed it into a nature reserve, the backdrop of Boyd’s family history and his own personal odyssey.

Alongside his feisty, daring sister, Bronwyn, Boyd grows up learning to track lions, raise leopard cubs, and pilot Land Rovers. The two of them tag along with their larger-than-life uncle, John, who repeatedly flung them in danger’s way to capture the best footage for his legendary wildlife videos. Boyd survives harrowing rhino charges and a vicious crocodile attack, but his most difficult challenge was a private crisis of purpose. After a period of intense spiritual questing, Boyd reconnects with nature and is able to “rediscover the track.”

I was thoroughly impressed with this memoir, and even more so with the writing. Varty is witty, honest, reflective and really does transport the reader into the Londolozi Game Reserve. Cathedral of the Wild is a thoughtful coming of age story that combines hilarious and heartbreaking stories of family, animals and nature with concerns of conservation, poaching and tribal wars. A mesmerizing read from start to finish.

Find a copy from VPL here.


Down-to-Read with Daniela: A Friend for Einstein: the smallest stallion


Age Group:
3-8 years

Non-Fiction, Friendship, Animals, Picture Book

A Friend for Einstein
shares the adorable story of the world’s smallest stallion and his quest for friendship! Too small to play with the other ponies, Einstein tries befriending a myriad of farm animals. But none are quite right for inquisitive Einstein. That is until he meets Lily, an energetic friend who is sure to keep up with the wiry pony!

My Thoughts:
I could not stop smiling while reading this book! Could Einstein be any cuter?? I want one! He actually reminds me of a stuffed unicorn toy with blue eyes that I got as a child.

The pictures in this non-fiction book are really too charming for words. With full page photo spreads and just the right amount of text, this book is the perfect choice for a read-a-loud.

Experience the cuteness of real life and borrow A Friend for Einstein: the smallest stallion from your local Vaughan Library today!