Great Illustrated Books

The Tarantula Scientist (Scientists in the Field series)

By Sy Montgomery, Illustrated by Nic Bishop

Houghton Mifflin, 2004
Pages : 80
Suggested Ages: 9 and Up
ISBN: 9780618147991

Meet arachnologist Sam Marshall as he explores the floor of the rainforest of French Guiana in South America, studying the habits and habitat of the Goliath birdeater tarantula, the world’s largest spider. Marshall was an indifferent student at Bard College until he found his passion, researching the habits and behavior of tarantulas. He says, "Scientific research is just a way of asking a question and answering it. That was the thing that totally changed my life." Now he works at the largest comparative spider laboratory in the U.S., which he founded, at Hiram College in Ohio. This Sibert Honor winner (silver medal) for distinguished informational books, part of the exemplary Scientists in the Field series, highlights an enthusiastic and articulate expert in his field. The book abounds with Nic Bishop’s splendid life-sized color photographs that reveal and revel in the majesty of tropical tarantulas, which scientists also call hairy mygalomorphs. How much do you know about them? Here are just a few facts you’ll glean from the book. True or false?:

1. People can die from a tarantula's bite.
2. Tarantulas smell with their feet.
3. Tarantulas can regrow lost legs.
4. Tarantulas live for 4 years.

1. False. No one has ever died from one.
2. True.
3. True.
4. False. Some can live for 30.

For some spectacular color photos of many types of tarantulas, go to the American Tarantula Society website at Bishop and Montgomery also won a Sibert Honor for Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea, while Bishop won yet another Sibert Honor in 2008 for Nic Bishop Spiders, in which he wrote about and photographed more than a dozen arachnids.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Berger, Melvin. Spinning Spiders. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN-13: 9780064452076

Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Frogs. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN-13: 9780439782210

Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Spiders. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN-13: 9780439877565

Kramer, Stephen. Hidden Worlds: Looking Through a Scientist's Microscope. Houghton Mifflin, 2001. ISBN-13: 9780618354054

Markle, Sandra. Spiders: Biggest! Littlest! Boyds Mills, 2004. ISBN-13: 9781590781906

Montgomery, Sy. Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. ISBN-13: 9780618496419

Montgomery, Sy. The Snake Scientist. Houghton Mifflin, 1999. ISBN-13: 9780618111190

Murawski, Darlyne A. Spiders and Their Webs. National Geographic, 2004. ISBN-13: 9780792269793

Tyson, Leigh Ann. An Interview with Harry the Tarantula. National Geographic, 2003. ISBN-13: 9780792251224

White, E. B. Charlotte's Web. HarperCollins, 1952. ISBN-13: 9780064400558

Critics have said

A treat, even for arachnophobes.
Patricia Manning, School Library Journal

Readers will come away armed with facts about spiders in general and tarantulas in particular, but even more important, they'll have a clear understanding of how the answers derived from research become the roots of new, intriguing questions.
Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist

It is a wonderful nonfiction book, in every sense of the word.
Susan Hepler, Ph.D., Children

Bishop's phenomenal photos show spiders mating, shedding their skin, even leaping through the air. It's enough to make Miss Muffet fall in love.
Kirkus Reviews