Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Death Eaters: Meet Nature’s Decomposers by Kelly Milner Halls

Death Eaters: Meet Nature’s Decomposers
by Kelly Milner Halls
Millbrook Press. 2018
For science lovers of all ages

Nature is the great recycler. In Death Eaters, we get a front row seat to watch those creatures whose role it is to eat the dead. Milner kicks off this fascinating narrative nonfiction with the “Five Stages of Decomposition: Step 1: Fresh; Step 2: Bloat; Step 3: Active Decay; Step 4: Advanced Decay; Step 5: Dry Remains.

Death Eaters are insects, mammals, birds, and, when life ends in the ocean, crustaceans, sharks, bone-eating worms to bacteria and fungi. “Bacteria and fungi break down the dead through biochemical reactions, and these reactions release nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen back into the ecosystem.”

Science is seamlessly woven into the narrative. Side bars further explain concepts and detailed color photographs, showing the animals in action, enhance the text. 

Back matter includes source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further reading of books, websites and videos, and an index. In her conclusion, Milner Halls explains how she became fascinated with “those animals that live by eating the dead.” 

Hand this book to anyone interested in science, especially decomposition. And reassure them, like Milner’s father reassured her, “Never be ashamed of wondering.”

To write this review, I borrowed this book from my local public library.

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