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By Rebecca L. Johnson
Interest Level: 4-8
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"Solid (sometimes writhing) proof that the scariest zombie flicks have nothing on Nature.
To demonstrate that there are indeed real zombies—'closer than you think'—Johnson (Journey into the Deep, 2010; iPad app, 2011) introduces a select set of fungi, worms, viruses and wasps that invade the bodies and take over the brains of their victims. Enhanced by large and often deliciously disturbing color photos, her descriptions of each parasite's lifecycle is both specific and astonishing; not only does the fungus O. unilateralis force a carpenter ant to clamp itself to a leaf (before sending a long reproductive stalk out of its head) for instance, it even somehow strengthens the ant's mouth muscles. The author tracks similarly focused physical and behavioral changes not just in insects, but in other creatures too, including rabies-infected mammals. Lest human readers feel left out of the picture, she mentions the protozoan T. gondii, which causes rats to engage in reckless behavior and also has infected up to a quarter of all the adults and teens in this country. In each chapter, Johnson reports back on conversations with scientists engaged in relevant research, and she closes with a quick look at telling signs in the fossil record.
Science writing at its grossest and best, though as the title (not to mention the blood-spattered pages) warns, not for the squeamish." (author's note, glossary, notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction.10-13) --starred, Kirkus Reviews
Lerner Interactive Books introduce students to knowledge areas in core grade-level curriculum in an engaging format. With titles that span curriculum themes from pre-K - 5th grade, Lerner Interactive Books give readers a digital option for reading that allows them to read, hear, and interact in a way that will engage and motivate them to read more and more often. It's a fast path to deepening students' love of reading and learning.
From the opening page, audio and visual cues and easy-to-use tools help guide your students through the story. As the story begins, words are highlighted while they're read aloud. This type of word distinction better supports letter and word recognition skills, and keeps kids focused on the structure of how to read.
Students can turn the page using the forward arrow, clicking and dragging, or clicking the bottom corner of the book depending on their comfort level or keyboard skills.
A unique feature of the Lerner Interactive Book is single word playback. Readers can stop, click and re-listen to the pronunciation of any word on the page. If the book includes a glossary, readers can also click on the word for a full definition.
Because not all students read at the same pace, we've included dual audio speeds based on a words-per-minute pace recommended by reading and educational researchers for struggling and on-grade-level readers. Readers start at speed one, and can move to the faster speed as they gain confidence.
Each button on the player uses color, text and easy-to-recognize icons so even the earliest of readers feel comfortable using the controls. Each tool remains consistent through all our titles, so kids can focus on reading.
Teachers, parents and librarians can use the interactive whiteboard tools to highlight or circle specific portions of the book for one-on-one, small group, or whole class instruction.
We've included extra material and support to help extend the learning experience. Kids can play a game or activity that relates to the story they just read, or take a simple 5-question quiz to check for understanding.
Lerner Interactive Books are delivered via the Internet under a single-user license. Additional licensing options are available upon request.
The following technical specifications are required to implement Lerner Interactive Books in a school or public library: