________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 41. . . .June 22, 2012


A Little Book of Slime.

Clint Twist.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2012.
80 pp., hardcover, $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-77085-006-4.

Subject Headings:
Plants-Secretion-Juvenile literature.
Mucus-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4



Slimy Stuff in Water-Slime Tube Imagine swimming along in nice warm seawater and suddenly meeting a giant slime tube that is larger than you are and pulsing with light. No, it’s not some kind of strange alien – it’s a pyrosome (PIE-ro-some).

A zooid city-A pyrosome is a colonial marine animal that is made up of hundreds and even thousands of individuals called zooids. The zooids are joined together by a coating of semi-solid slime into a tube that is closed at one end.

Filter feeder-The pyrosome swims by pushing seawater out of the open end of the tube, which pulses its body forward. The tiny individual zooids, which are less than ¼ in. (6 mm) long, feed by filtering plankton from the water as the pyrosome moves. Pyrosomes can produce a flashing light through a process called bioluminescence (BI-o-L00-min-ess-ense), but scientists have not yet found out why they do this.

Slime-ometer – Small pyrosomes are not too bad, but the large ones? Yuck! They score points for size alone. Overall range: 4


This book will treat readers to a disgusting subject: slime. The “sticky, semi-liquid substance” produced by living organisms is described throughout the book as “gloopy green scum”, smelly, “some of it is poisonous”, slippery, “a blob of gunk” or “utterly revolting.” In spite of all that gross press, readers will discover that slime is everywhere, essential for keeping bodies of amphibians, slugs and snails moist, for collecting food (the sundew plant) and as a defensive tool (poison arrow frog). The author has created “slime-ometer ratings between 1 and 10” with the higher rating given to the most offensive slime. Three sections divide the text: Slimy Stuff in Water, Slimy Stuff on Land and Other Slimy Stuff.

internal art     Subheadings within each section follow a similar pattern (see the excerpt) to describe the essential details of various kinds of slime. Each double-page description includes facts in short chunks, a close-up photo and a full page shot, with an extra amazing fact in a Slime Alert bubble. A glossary of terms shown in bold type and an index complete the book.

     The writing style is perfect for this subject matter: straightforward and easy to understand, with wry humour to add interest: “When walking through a tropical rainforest, you never know what is going to drip down and fall onto your head. If you are very unlucky, it will be a great big drop of slimy wriggling tadpoles.” Besides the more familiar types of slime and slime-producers – red tide, jellyfish, banana slug, saliva – readers will encounter gruesome things, such as the horrible hagfish that produces the world’s strongest slime, the starfish stinkhorn whose slime stinks like sewage and rotting meat, and living snot mold which doesn’t make slime, it is slime. Slime is not exclusive to other animals and plants; it’s ours too. Phlegm is a sign of ill health, and saliva helps us chew and swallow. Colourful slime is produced by the bacteria that decompose dead plants and animals.

     This fascinating book will give readers loads of information with which to amaze their friends. Kids will especially enjoy the ‘gross factor’ which starts with the cover, showing a slug done in a 3-D textured effect, with raised lettering for the title in, what else, slime green. Here’s an excellent science resource on a topic about which many of us know little.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

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

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