Lynn: Given that our focus group loves nothing more than bugs and creepy critters, I have NO idea how I missed Elise Gravel’s series, Disgusting Critters, that began in 2014. I may be coming in late, but I’m coming in enthusiastic after discovering The Toad (2016) on the new books shelf at my public library. EWWW—what a disgusting treat!
Nonfiction for the newly independent reader set is not an easy thing to do well. Many young readers are often amazingly knowledgeable about a particular subject, so they are eager for a lot of interesting facts—but those facts better be right. For an author to manage while using a vocabulary they can handle is a challenge. Elise Gravel does a great job using relatively simple words while incorporating appropriate and accurate science vocabulary. She very clearly understands her target audience’s sense of humor, too, and appeals to it with cartoon-style illustrations and the sorts of gross, ewww-inducing examples that kids love—like the drawing of a toad eating its shed skin with bottles of catsup, salt, and pepper in the background. What first-grade boy could resist?
Other delightfully disgusting books in the series include: The Slug (2014), The Rat (2014), The Spider (2015), The Fly (2014), and The Worm (2014). And who can resist Head Lice (2015)? I can’t wait for what comes next…EWWW!