The Disgusting Critters

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In one of two books kicking off the aptly (and wonderfully) named Disgusting Creatures series, Gravel (How Do You Doodle?) explores the long and short of worms, with a big emphasis on humor. A pink earthworm who is prone to shouting pops up repeatedly, at one point insisting, “I am not disgusting!” after Gravel describes his species as “basically a long digestive tract inside a muscle tube. It’s that muscle tube that’s slimy and disgusting.” The boldly colored cartoons and handwritten display fonts make this a very appealing package, though the images can be at slight cross-purposes with the text (Gravel gives the friendly crew of worms eyes and smiley faces, even though readers learn halfway in that worms don’t actually have eyes). But those idiosyncrasies in no way diminish the enjoyment of the book as Gravel tightrope-walks the line between gross and funny—as in a silhouetted image of a dog that shows two parasitic white worms sitting down to a meal in its belly. Says one, “Pass the salt, please!” Simultaneously available: The Fly. Ages 6–9. (Mar.)

Kirkus Reviews


The author of the rousingly revolting Day in the Office of Doctor Bugspit (2011) dishes out more dirt with this appetite-spoiling introduction to the ubiquitous fly clan. Focusing particularly on houseflies (Muscidae), Gravel ties snippets of natural science—the fly “spits or vomits a bit of digestive fluid on his meal to soften it”—to humorous scenarios (“Jonathan! Did you spit on your food?” / “Yeeeesss, Mom.” / “There’s a good boy”). The black, blue, puce and red illustrations feature bulbous, anthropomorphic figures with limp wings and tubular noses, along with the occasional accessory (the “Teenager Muscidae” sports a slouch and a sideways baseball cap; the baby has a binky). Young readers will at least come away with a thorough understanding of how unsanitary these insects are and also, perhaps, clearer pictures of their physical makeup, life cycle and even some of the differences among fly species. Published simultaneously in the Disgusting Critters series, The Worm (978-1-77049-633-0) is equally edutaining. Gross-out potential, for sure—but also likely to give larval entomologists a mild buzz. (Picture book. 5-7)