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The Picture Book Buzz

Animal Zombies! - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF and Giveaway

I can guarantee you that wondering through the library or bookstore, which is a favorite past-time of mine, I would not have gravitated to this book. Ever since I snuck peeks down the hall at The Blob as a small child and my college boyfriend insisted on showing me a Freddy Krueger movie, I have avoided scary movies and books. Horror and grossness are really not my thing.

BUT, I am very glad that one of my critique partners wrote this book. That gave me an incentive to read it. Fortunately, the format allows you to focus on the science and statistics, if an image is too freaky. Despite myself, I enjoyed this book and can see it being wildly popular with millions of children (and adults).

Animal Zombies! And Other Bloodsucking Beasts, Creepy Creatures, and Real-Life Monsters

Author: Chana Stiefel

Publisher: National Geographic Kids (2018)

Ages: 8-12



Nature, bizarre animals, science, and grossness

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Zombie alert! Meet the real-life monsters of the animal kingdom and explore the gory, gross, and creepy behaviors these creatures have honed in order to survive. Do monsters really exist? Find out for yourself in this fun-filled book, featuring some real-life wonders of nature: zombifying parasites, bloodsucking vampires, aliens, sea beasts, ghosts, and more. Discover more than 50 creatures with unusual talents, find out what makes each animal tick, and whether they are truly "monsters" after all. Features include eye-popping photography, spine-tingling scientific info, the most up-to-date research, and fun facts for extra knowledge. You'll also meet the "Mad Scientist" experts who study these creatures, explore the creepy origins of their mythical counterparts, and learn how these spooky adaptations help them survive.

Opening Lines:


BEWARE! You are about to enter the darkest, creepiest corner of our world. You'll collide with creatures that INVADE BRAINS, DRINK BLOOD, and even DEVOUR THEIR OWN MOMS! You'll confront howlers, prowlers, and foul flesh-eaters. You'll brush up against critters with NEEDLE-LIKE FANGS and TOXIC TENTACLES. These "monsters" dwell in the gloomiest jungles and the deepest seas. Some tiny creatures may also lurk UNDER YOUR MATTRESS and even CLING TO YOUR EYELASHES. . .



What I like about this book:

Living up to expectations for a National Geographic book, ANIMAL ZOMBIES is full of eye-catching, vividly detailed, photographs of animals, scientists, and the occasional supernatural. The book is divided into five fun chapters on THE LIVING DEAD, BLOODSUCKERS, CREEPS FROM THE DEEP, ANIMAL ALIENS, and ANIMAL MONSTER MASH.

Text © Chana Stiefel, 2018. Compilation © National Geographic, 2018.

Did you know there really are "zombies"? Like this poor, unsuspecting ladybug. If you're brave enough, Chana takes the reader through an exploration of the various parasites that have the ability to control their animal hosts. She looks at the mechanism of the action, it's ultimate result, and why it excites scientists.

The chapter on blood suckers obviously tackles the typical mosquitoes, leeches, ticks, and fleas. But Chana also discusses Dracula and the scientist who is trying to teach people that bats aren't mean and scary, but surprisingly gentle.

My favorite chapter is THE CREEPS FROM THE DEEP. Maybe because they seem less gross or because I have a deep affinity for the ocean. I enjoyed reading how these animals can take care of themselves and scientists are discovering ways for them to help us, too.

Text © Chana Stiefel, 2018. Compilation © National Geographic, 2018.

Chapter 4 rightfully carries the warning that it might provoke nightmares. It was the hardest for me to read. All I'll say about it is that Chana dives into the microscopic microbes that exist on and around us. The final chapter looks at animals that could be considered "ghosts or monsters."

In addition to a number of gross, terrifying, and, yes, truly fascinating animals (I loved the entries on wolves and tawny frogmouths), each chapter also profiles a "Mad Scientist." Chana provides insights into how they got started, their research, and interesting or unique things to know about their field.

Text © Chana Stiefel, 2018. Compilation © National Geographic, 2018.

Overall, this is a wonderful book that will appeal to kids and adults who love animals, devour facts, and enjoy getting a little scared. As an added bit of fact and fun, mixed amongst the delightful and gross animals, is an evaluation of the pop culture and myths surrounding Zombies, Vampires, the Kraken, Aliens, and Werewolves. This book is a great STEM addition to any classroom or library.


- do you know of an animal that could have been included in this book? (What about the almost 12 foot long giant Japanese spider crab? or the star-nosed mole?);

- draw a picture or write a story about a monster or animal zombie you'd create; or


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

To be entered in the giveaway, simply comment on this post. (Sorry, limited to U.S. addresses) One lucky winner will be chosen at random next Friday.

If you're curious about the author and her other books, check out my interview with Chana Stiefel.

If you are in the Teaneck, NJ area, be sure to check out Chana's book launch:

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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