#674 – When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson



When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses

Written by Rebecca L. Johnson
Millbrook Press          9/1/2015
Nonfiction Picture Book
48 pages       Age 9 to 14

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“In nature, good defenses can mean the difference between surviving a predator’s attack and becoming its lunch. Some animals rely on sharp teeth and claws or camouflage. But that’s only the beginning. Meet creatures with some of the strangest defenses known to science. How strange? Hagfish that can instantaneously produce oodles of gooey, slippery slime; frogs that poke their own toe bones through their skin to create claws; young birds that shoot streams of stinking poop; and more.” [book jacket]

“On Earth the challenge of survival is a real and serious business. In the wild, every living thing is constantly at risk of being eaten by something else.”

Life is a bed of strange abilities as explored in When Lunch Fights Back. These animals—and one plant—have incredible defense mechanisms. You will wonder what other odd defense mechanisms other animals might possess. I do. It also made me wonder why humans have limited natural defense abilities. Hitting, screaming, and kicking are all fine defenses, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to have some of these abilities.

1. Cover your predator with thick, slimy, goo. (Atlantic Hagfish)
2. Extend your fingers so the bones protrude through the skin like sharp claws. (African Hairy Frog)
3. Bulge out your eyes and shoot a deadly stream of blood into a predator’s mouth. (Texas Horned Lizard)

Stuff of science fiction? Nope. When Lunch Fights Back contains animals with these abilities and much more. This nonfiction picture book for older kids is a fascinating read. There is enough “yuck” to entertain kids and the author supplies the science behind those incredible abilities, making this a great adjunct text for science teachers. Author notes, a glossary, index, bibliography, and extra resources are included.


Johnson writes in a manner that should be accessible to most middle grade aged kids. She introduces researchers and scientist in the “Science Behind the Story” sections. There is so much to learn and see it just might develop a child’s interest in the natural word. If the title does not peak a child’s interest, the images will. The color photographs highlight the noxious defenses and info-boxes give additional information about each animal (scientific name, location, habitat, and size).

Still, would it not be terrific if humans could spew putrid contents at a predator, much like a fulmar? Or, and this is a tad gross, turn our other check and “shoot streams of foul-smelling feces” at an attacker, much like a hoopoe chick can do? If you had the ability to slime an attacker, like the hagfish (aka “snot eel”), I doubt anyone would mess with you.

When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses is an amazing look into some crazy species. Kids will love this book and teachers can use that interest to bring out the zoologist, biologist, or naturalist in her (or his) students. While a tad gross, and most definitely with a yuck value of 9, kids will enjoy When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses. This kid did!
WHEN LUNCH FIGHTS BACK: WICKEDLY CLEVER ANIMA DEFENSES. Text copyright © 2015 by Rebecca L. Johnson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
Purchase When Lunch Fights Back at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Books.

Learn more about When Lunch Fights Back HERE.
Meet the author, Rebecca L Johnson, at her website:  http://www.rebeccajohnsonbooks.com/
Find more MG Nonfiction at the Lerner Publishing Group website:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/

Millbrook Press is an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


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