Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium

Image of Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium (Genius Animals)
Release Date: 
September 19, 2023
NorthSouth Books
Reviewed by: 

Genius Noses is a winner for older kids. Five stars out of five.”

Genius Noses: A Curious Animal Compendium has a lovely green matte finish, the front endpapers a map of the world showing the different animals to be discussed and where they live. Turn the page and it’s a flying brown bat. The title page explains that the book has been translated from German by Marshall Yarbrough. The next page is entitled What and Where, but it’s not a normal Table of Contents. Animals are grouped out of order into categories, such as Flying Creatures, Ground-Dwellers, Underground Diggers, Happiest When Hanging Out in trees, and Water and Creatures.

One is beginning to realize that this Is not an ordinary picture book for six to twelve year olds. That is confirmed on the next page which discusses Aardvarks (Orycteropus afer). “Aardvarks are microsmatic. That means they find their way around mainly by using their sense of smell.”

The green type on white background alternates with green type on gold background to help break up the text. Each page of the oversized book is packed with information. “Desman is another word for musk . . . Because of this, they used to be hunted to make perfume.” Stink badger, Echidna, Bilby, the book is filled with smelly animals that smell. In Australia, chocolate bilbies for Easter have paid for a fence 12 miles long to keep out predators (so they won’t become extinct like their cousins, the lesser bilbies).

The art is engaging, colorful and fun inside imperfect rectangles, circles and ovals set against a white background. The entire book feels like a well-done science project, with labels for each genus, and facts galore at every turn.

A budding zoologist will read the book over and over again to absorb all the knowledge within. The casual reader will be able to produce a good science report on one of the more than 50 animals featured.

Microsmatic is introduced. “This means that their sense of smell is not particularly well developed . . .” There are two typos on that page and none anywhere else. “Snub-nosed monkeys . . . probably developed their mini-noses because of the icy winters in their habitats. A larger nose would be significantly more sensitive to cold.”

“Every koala nose is as unique as a fingerprint.” An elephant “can detect water from a distance of up to six miles using its sense of smell.”  Elephant seals “can hold their breath for more than an hour.” The term anosmatic is introduced, meaning that “they couldn’t smell at all.”

The glossary does not include macrosmatic, microsmatic or anosmatic, problematic if one isn’t paying close attention to the text or not reading the entire book. All are defined under osmatic, but how would a kid know that? The page across from the glossary has a curled-up black and rufous elephant shrew.

Page 49 has a wonderful drawing showing the method of scientific classification for a species, which is inside of a genus, which is inside of a family, which is inside of an order, inside of a class, inside of a phylum, which is inside of the kingdom Animalia.

The book has a column of notes (references) and an index of Latin terms showing each animal’s genus name, a scientific system that works no matter what language you speak.

The end papers in the back show the animals by size in relation to one another.

Genius Noses is a winner for older kids. Five stars out of five.