Review of Tricky Behavior, by Kimberley Jane Pryor.
Published by Marshall Cavendish (first published in the United States in 2010)
Reviewed by Michelle Solensky, Ph.D., Jamestown College
Animals do the strangest things, and Kimberley Jane Pryor has assembled a fascinating collection of weird behaviors used by a variety of animals to avoid becoming a predator’s lunch. Tricky Behavior is one of six outstanding books in the Animal Attack and Defense series. In this book, readers can learn about the bizarre and amazing ways in which animals defend themselves by surprising or fooling potential predators.
Many readers will recognize some of the animal defenses highlighted, including grouping together (fish, penguins), emitting noxious odors (skunks, stink bugs), and playing dead (possums, hognose snake). Even for those familiar with these strategies, this book offers wonderfully colorful photographs to illustrate these behaviors, and a brief yet detailed and entertaining description of each animal and its behavior. Even readers who are familiar with defensive tactics like fleeing or freezing will still find something new to learn about in this book: birds that vomit on potential intruders, lizards that shoot blood from their eyes, fish that mask their scent by secreting a mucus sleeping bag, and ground squirrels that mask their odors with rattlesnake scent.
For example, one 2-page layout features animals that blow themselves up to look larger (porcupine fish) or anchor themselves tightly into rock crevices (chuckwallas). This book is certainly entertaining enough to read cover to cover, but also works well when read a few pages at a time, since each page features a self-contained description of one animal and its tricky behavior. This book is a great read for upper elementary school children, and for older kids and adults who enjoy learning about the crazy things that animals do.