Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks

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Product Details

Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publish Date
8.2 X 10.2 X 0.5 inches | 0.9 pounds
Library Binding

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About the Author

Jolene Gutiérrez is an award-winning teacher-librarian who has been working with diverse learners at Denver Academy for the past 28 years. When she was little, she would squint to protect her eyes from bright lights and cover her ears to protect herself from loud noises. Now, she wears sunglasses when she's outside and brings earplugs if she thinks she'll need them. She didn't immediately recognize her own kids' sensory processing issues because their struggles looked different from her own. She hopes Too Much! will help caregivers and educators recognize and support sensory processing challenges. Learn more at Angel Chang was once a young girl who felt too much and often thought she didn't belong because of it. It took a long time for her to learn that her feelings matter as much as everyone else's. She hopes this book will help young readers realize theirs do too. Chang is the illustrator of Most of the Better Natural Things in the World; Just Like Me; and Lunar New Year Around the World. She lives in Taiwan with a cat who loves to chew papers and sleep on books. Learn more at


"This title discusses animals that have been injured and given prostheses to improve their lives. Gutiérrez highlights five different animals, educates readers on each particular species, and explains how they became injured. The narratives also detail how the prostheses were made for each animal, as making a flipper for an injured turtle is a different process than constructing a foreleg for an elephant. Readers interested in biomedical technology will appreciate the instructions for building small-scale prosthetic models using household items. VERDICT Examining environmentalism, animal rescue, and technological possibility, this science-filled book for upper-elementary to middle school readers entertains in many forms."--School Library Journal

-- (9/1/2020 12:00:00 AM)

"Gutiérrez profiles five 'bionic beasts, ' animals whose prosthetic body parts help them to function.

Matter-of-factly, she introduces three animals that each have only three legs: Lola, a Kemp's ridley sea turtle from Texas; Mosha, an Asian elephant from Myanmar; and Cassidy, a German shepherd from New York. Pirate, a Berkshire-Tamworth pig from Vancouver Island, has a deformed leg; Vitória, a greylag goose from Brazil, lacks a beak. The animals struggled to move or eat until veterinarians, designers, and doctors teamed up to create innovative prostheses and orthoses. The prostheses' complex design processes are clearly described. Sidebars provide animal facts and highlight various rescue organizations; the book's bright yellow and green color scheme complements the accompanying color photos. Though technology is the primary focus, the author acknowledges political and environmental issues in the animals' habitats, such as ongoing civil wars in Myanmar and oceans cluttered with plastic waste. Activities follow each profile. Some attempt to mimic the teams' challenges by constructing mock prostheses from household items and exploring strengths and weaknesses of various designs. Others edge problematically into disability simulation, such as imitating Pirate's walk 'to understand how Pirate feels' without his orthosis; though well-meaning, the exercise risks encouraging pity for similarly disabled humans and feels incongruous with other, inclusive instructions: 'if you are able'; 'or observe a friend.' (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 69.1% of actual size.)

Scientifically inclined readers will enjoy this in-depth application of STEM to disabled animals."--Kirkus Reviews

-- (8/1/2020 12:00:00 AM)