Never Smile at a Monkey
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009. Unpaged. Nonfiction.
You wouldn't know it from the title, but this is a scary book. Everyone knows not to play with a black widow or anger a rattlesnake, but why not smile at a monkey? Or collect a cone shell? You will find out in this book, which is about animals that might seem harmless, but actually can be quite dangerous, and even lethal. The large illustrations are vibrant, and there is just enough information on each page to cause alarm. For example, on one page is the advice, "NEVER caress an electric caterpillar." The explanation is: "This colorful caterpillar will turn into a harmless brown moth. But until that happens, look out! If your skin touches its hairy bristles, you'll feel an intense burning sensation. Without immediate medical attention, weakness, severe illness, and death can follow." Well, that is all fine and dandy and thanks for the advice, but how do we avoid this caterpillar?! Where does it live?! How careful should I be?! Luckily, at the end of the book there are additional pages that go into greater detail about each animal which includes their habitat. I was very relieved to find out that the electric caterpillar lives in Southern Brazil. This is definitely a fun, easy to read, yet quite informative book.