The publisher of the Horrible Science series, Scholastic, are past masters of using a different format to spice up a book. In this case it’s a book about animals where the disgusting alien Slobslime the Snottie and his spotty friend Oddblob the Blurb are touring earthbound animals and getting themselves into messes.
The book has six double pages spreads of which the first five are sliding square puzzles – those sort of two dimensional Rubik’s cube things that have one piece missing so you can slide them about and rearrange the picture. Under all the squares but one there’s a little snippet of information, while facing the full-page illustration from Tony de Saulles that makes up the puzzle is a page of animal facts. The main pages cover prowlers of the plain, the revolting river, death on the ocean wave, the very wild west and the fearsome forest.
They are entertaining, though I was slightly disappointed that the pictures come unscrambled – I think it would have been more interesting if they started in a scrambled state. I also found the cardboard sliding mechanism a little fragile. I can’t help but think that little fingers and a bit of brute force will soon damage them – given the £12.99 cover price, I think they could have run to plastic sliders.
This is an entertaining book, but obviously lacks the narrative drive of one of the usual Horrible Science books, which for me significantly reduces its appeal. I think it would work best in a doctor’s waiting room, or in one of those strange time periods that primary schools now have to fill with different activities (with the proviso that I’m not sure it’s robust enough), but I can’t see it having a huge appeal in the home.
Review by Brian Clegg