________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 36. . . .May 20, 2011


50 Poisonous Questions: A Book with Bite. (50 Questions Series).

Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2011.
110 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-280-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-281-2 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Poisons-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** ˝ /4



From miniature blue-ringed octopuses with lethal bites to venom-equipped stingrays the size of baby elephants, the oceans are teeming with toxins. Scientists have counted 1, 200 poisonous fish species. One of the most dangerous lurks in underwater sand, its warts and wrinkles blending almost perfectly with the mottled surface. When the sneaky stonefish gulps down smaller fish for dinner, 13 spines along its back protect it from attack. If a shark nose the stonefish, the spines project deadly venom.

There are probably more poisonous underwater species yet to be discovered. In 2009, deep in an underwater lava tube off the Canary Islands, divers found a tiny, toxic crustacean no one had ever seen before. It had no eyes – only searching antennae and vicious fangs.


50 Poisonous Questions: A Book with Bite takes a look at the wide variety of poisons and poisonous things in the world, ranging through animals, plants, minerals, gases and human-created toxins. Presented in an easy-to-read format with plenty of humour, 50 Poisonous Questions covers a wide amount of information without overwhelming readers.

      Although the title is 50 Poisonous Questions, the information is first broken down into chapters, with each chapter focussing on one particular area of poisons. Within each chapter, the questions act as subheadings for the information. This structure makes the information quite accessible as it is broken down into easy but related sections, rather than a collection of random questions and answers. The excellent detailed index will also aid readers in finding information.

      The information presented does more than simply answer the questions. Each answer generally includes both general and specific information, rather than just a quick answer. There are many boxes of quick facts and additional information which supplement the main information and add additional facts. The short quizzes at the end allow readers to see what they have learned from that chapter and provide additional information. All of this is combined with easy to understand writing and humorous illustrations which make 50 Poisonous Questions fun as well as educational.

      Although 50 Poisonous Questions covers a lot of information, it only provides an overview and does not go in-depth on any topics. However, the way the information is presented should encourage many readers to look up more on the topics in which they are interested.

      The one disappointment was the sparseness of the “Further Reading” section. While there is an extensive bibliography, the small number of titles in “Further Reading” is primarily focussed on venomous animals. Since 50 Poisonous Questions has a broad focus on poisons and poisonous things, it would be great to see this reflected more in the “Further Reading.”

      50 Poisonous Questions is a fun look at some of the poisonous things in our world. The writing style and humorous illustrations provide information in a way that will be appealing to readers.

Highly Recommended.

Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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