By Sara Martel

Tilbury House Publishers, 2016

35 pages, $17.95

The wacky title of this children’s book is sure to produce giggles and snickers from kids and grown ups, but it’s not exactly what you might think. OK, maybe it is. But a Kaka is actually a multicolored bird from New Zealand, and it really does eat doo doo.

Author Sara Martel has brilliantly combined fun with science in a fascinating and funny look at how animals, birds and insects use poop in ingenious ways. They don’t “waste” a thing. And this is real science, no doo doo.

Using examples from all over the world, Martel describes how and why nature’s creatures use poop (their own and others) to defend against or distract predators, attract mates (no kidding), as a food source (yuck), as well as strange poop habits.

She tells why some caterpillars sling their poop, why some birds deliberately pee and poop on themselves, and why Kakas eat insect doo doo. The male MacGregor bowerbird decorates his nest with doo doo to attract a female. The tree sloth only poops once a week and doodlebugs don’t poop until they are adults.

Martel also points out that humans use poop, too. Think of fertilizers and moose-poop jewelry (tourists will buy anything). Ages 6-10.


By Laura Freudig

Islandport Press, 2016

32 pages, $17.95

If an active family could imagine themselves as animals, birds or insects, what would they be? Author Laura Freudig, of Bernard (Mount Desert Island), shows us in her debut children’s book, “Halfway Wild.”

This is a whimsical and poetic story, well-suited to the imaginations of children ages 4-7, and beautifully illustrated with hilarious, detailed and colorful artwork by award-winning illustrator Kevin Barry.

The family — mother, father, son, daughter and grandma — go through a day’s activities, cleverly revealing how humans can connect with nature’s creatures in amusing ways. The illustrations show each human activity as depicted by birds, animals and insects.

The family are bumblebees in the early morning, then moose trying to reach the cereal box on a high top shelf, and later frisky squirrels playing in the living room. Outdoors they are ducks playing in a puddle, ants marching to the beach, seals swimming and fireflies playing hide and seek at night.

The family’s facial expressions are priceless, especially grandma’s. Very imaginative and funny.


By Abigail Ewing Zelz

Tilbury House Publishers, 2016

47 pages, $17.95

ISBN 978-0-88448-468-4.

Once again Tilbury House has come up with a great, tasty idea for a children’s book — a brief history of famous people and their favorite foods.

Author Abigail Zelz and illustrator Eric Zelz are a husband-and-wife team collaborating on the food cultures of 16 famous historical figures, using very funny, comic illustrations and witty narrative to describe food across the centuries. For ages 6-10, this is a truly fun, educational history lesson of folks and food.

Each short chapter features an account of the famous person’s life and a brief description of their favorite foods. Cleopatra, for example, loved vegetables, nuts and fruit, and everybody in Egypt ate with their fingers. Marco Polo went to China and liked to spice up his food with pepper, ginger, clove and nutmeg.

Other folks include Aztec emperor Moctezuma (chocolate), Paul Revere (cornmeal mush), Napoleon (ate like a slob), Abe Lincoln (apples), Babe Ruth (hot dogs, of course), Martin Luther King, Jr. (bologna sandwiches), Queen Victoria (a very fast eater) and Gandhi (wheat bread and goat milk).

And what is pandowdy? It is a baked fruit dessert (see the recipe in the book).

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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