Something Rotten

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Heather Montgomery gives a warning at the beginning of Something Rotten that her book is not for squeamish souls, reckless readers, or the tenderhearted. Her subtitle, “A Fresh Look at Roadkill,” suggests a reason for her advice. 

 Being neither squeamish nor overly tenderhearted and thinking of the subtitle, I found her chapter titles intriguing – “On the Trail of Dead Devils,” “Please Pass the Salt,” and “Oh Deer!” to name a few. 

There is much to learn in this book that is designed for middle graders, but is also intriguing for those who have passed that milestone. As it turns out, there is more to roadkill than the nasty splat on the highway since scientists collect and examine the bodies for species, migration, diseases, and many other pieces of information. As you might imagine, some of these are disgusting like why vultures pee right down their legs. One of my favorite new pieces of knowledge is, “Please don’t feed the highway.” She gives a reason not to throw that apple core out the window, although I thought I was being kind to share my snack with the birds and critters.  

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Heather weaves her identities as scientist, children’s author, and wit throughout the book making it a delightful read. Who would have thought this could happen with such a subject? (You can see that she is also an activist as she rescues the turtle from being roadkill.)

With great respect for Heather in all her roles, I would like to qualify her reading advice. You don’t want to miss this book.  Just put your squeamish soul and your tender heart in your closet for a while, but do pay attention to the cautions she gives to your recklessness when she advises, “Don’t do this at home.”

And since I’m sure you are just dying to know why you shouldn’t throw the apple core out the window, food along the highway may look like a tasty buffet to birds and critters just before it winds up turning them into roadkill.