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Episode 61 — Delightfully Gruesome


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Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers

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Grades K – 5
Podcast Series Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers
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Duration 13:48
Original Air Date Published October 15, 2013

Music in this podcast is provided by Freeplay Music.


Book Chat

Expert Chat


Book Chat

That’s Gross! By Crispin Boyer (National Geographic, 2012)

This is the ultimate book of icky facts. There are eight chapters, each covering a different topic of gross things, such as “Nasty Nature,”” Everyday Grossness,” and “Disgusting Fun!” That’s just a few chapter titles to whet your appetite. Along with the gross facts, there are plenty of vivid photographs that let kids see what they’re reading about. This book is perfect for the kid in your life that thrives on starting conversations with “Did you know…?”

Animal Grossapedia by Melissa Stewart (Scholastic, 2012)

Hagfish squirt mucus when they’re touched. Vampire finches drink blood from larger birds. And mother pandas eat their baby’s poop. These are just a few of the facts from this animal book that promises to gross out even the strongest stomach. Kids will delight in learning gruesome facts about well-known animals and discovering lesser known animals and their disgusting habits. There are plenty of photographs mixed in with the text, which makes this an appropriate nonfiction selection for elementary kids.

Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz; photos by Dwight Kuhn (Creston Books, 2013)

With Halloween quickly approaching, there will soon be jack-o-lanterns on porches and in windows. But what happens to the jack-o-lanterns once the festivities die down? Read this book to find out. David Schwartz takes kids through the process of the pumpkin's decomposition, the various animals that feast on the pumpkin, and the fungus and bacteria that grow and multiply on the pumpkin. The photographs have a gross factor that kids will love and the writing a scientific message that grown-ups will appreciate!

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale (Amulet Books, 2013)

In this graphic novel Nathan Hale tells the grisly story of the woefully fated Donner Party. Like many pioneers of that time, the Donners, along with several other families, wanted to try their luck out west. James Reed, the patriarch of one of the families, convinces everyone that they should take Lansford Hastings shortcut. Unfortunately, shortcuts aren’t always better. These tough pioneers faced near impossible cliffs to pass, thick vegetation to hack through, and a dry desert with no water. But worst of all was the cannibalism that kept the survivors alive. When the wagon train couldn’t make it out of the Sierra Nevadas in time becuse of the snow, the feasting began as, one by one, members of the wagon train succumbed to sickness, malnutrition, or the harsh elements. Comic, gruesome, and full of interesting historical facts, this books will keep kids oohing and ughing all the way through, and all while learning about some of America’s most interesting pioneer history!

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg; illustrated by Kevin O’Malley (Walker & Company, 2011)

When you open the book flap the author warns: “If you don’t have the guts for gore do not read this book.” And she’s right. This book is fantastically disgusting. Even though you’ll  be cringing, you just won’t be able to turn away. In fact, you’ll keep turning pages. Georgia Bragg, in a fun tongue-in-cheek style, reveals the details about the deaths of famous people like Marie Antoinette, Charles Dickens, and Christopher Columbus. Each chapter tells the story of a famous person, and her chapters are ordered in chronological order. You’ll learn interesting things like it was germs and not the gunshot that killed James Garfield.  George Washington cannot tell a lie: it was his bad teeth that caused the infection that killed him. And Edgar Allen Poe might have died of rabies?! You will definitely be glad that you live in a time of antibiotics rather than a time of poultices and bloodletting.

Expert Chat

Listen in as Emily chats with Georgia Bragg, the author of How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. Georgia talks about which story grossed her out the most as well as how her carpool experience inspired her to write this book.