If your first response to the title is Gross! and Why?, you are right on both counts. This book definitely gets into some grisly details, and it shows why lots of different people - and animals - could be affected by or have an effect on roadkill. Investigations include what happens to the bodies, whether they provide scientific insights or zoo - or even human - food, why roadkill happens and how it might be reduced, how movement patterns of humans and animals interact, and whether taxidermy is a ridiculous art or an act of respect.
The win for this book, besides the fact that the topic is so unique and almost everyone can learn something from it, is the author's unabashed curiosity and excitement about her learning throughout the book. This constant enthusiasm may be off-putting for some readers, who expect the topic to be given more serious scientific treatment, but it is exactly her enthusiasm for the science that propels her investigations, which is a great model for students in any topic.
The chapters are relatively short, but some of the vocabulary is demanding and some of the implications are complex, so I recommend this book for advanced fifth graders and up, although it might be great for the occasional advanced third grade reader, and sits perfectly for most sixth and seventh graders. The use of footnotes is sometimes lighthearted and usually useful and informative, so this could be a good introduction to that text format for some readers.
Is it gratuitously gross? No. Is it gross? Sure. But each chapter invites the reader to learn something new from each investigation and interview, and to consider cause and effect and perspectives. It will be a win with lots of readers, including some who might not expect to like it.
"The questions seemed to fight for my attention like cartoon characters climbing on top of one another, each trying to block the other from my sight. The What actually happens? question seemed so gruesomely intriguing, like it might lead me down some dark and windy road."
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