Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: When Lunch Fights Back Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson

The octopus spies a nice, tasty mantis shrimp. It swims over for a closer look at the small creature. Then—WHAM!—the mantis shrimp strikes a nasty blow with its hammer-like forelimb. The octopus shrinks back, defeated. That wasn't such an easy meal after all . . .
In nature, good defenses can mean the difference between surviving a predator's attack and becoming its lunch. Some animals rely on sharp teeth and claws or camouflage. But that's only the beginning. Meet creatures with some of the strangest defenses known to science. How strange? Hagfish that can instantaneously produce oodles of gooey, slippery slime; frogs that poke their own toe bones through their skin to create claws; young birds that shoot streams of stinking poop; and more.

I never really though about it before reading this book, but some animals have really gross defense systems.

In When Lunch Fights Back Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses, readers are introduced to several animals and their defense systems. Each chapter is devoted to one animal and opens with a scenario before delving into the science behind the defense system.

I liked the way each chapter was organized. It's kind of like watching some episodes of Elementary. You see it happen first before it's explained to you. There are also suggestions for additional resources at the end of the book.

I learned a lot of new things in this book. One fact that stood out was how the two-spot astyanax would, if chased by a predator while they were traveling in a school, would attack one of their own and push the injured fish out of the school in order to be consumed by the predator and thus saving the rest of the school. Basically, it's sacrifice one to save the many, although I do wonder how they choose which one gets to be the lucky meal.

Thanks to NetGalley and Millbrook Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of When Lunch Fights Back Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses is on September 1, 2014.


  1. The chapters are well-organized.
  2. You'll learn a lot of new things.
  3. Experts are interviewed for the science part of each chapter. 


  1. If you're very squeamish, you might get grossed out by some parts. 

In other words, in Patej's lab full of mantis shrimp, nobody taps on the glass. 

  1. You like trivia books.
  2. Your child likes animals.
  3. Your child likes learning new things. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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