Review: Sick!: The Twists and Turns Behind Animal Germs by Heather L. Montgomery and Lindsey Leigh

Sick!: The Twists and Turns Behind Animal Germs by Heather L. Montgomery

Sick!: The Twists and Turns Behind Animal Germs
Heather L. Montgomery
Illustrated by Lindsey Leigh
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published February 20, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Sick!

When a super sickness lands on the land, when a parasite becomes more than a pest, when an infection ignites an epidemic, what’s a body to do? Your body is an animal body, so why not ask the animals?

Follow the scientists, around the world and into their labs, who are studying animals and the germs that attack them. From fungus-ridden frogs with fevers to bacteria-resistant buzzards and everything in-between, animals have A LOT to teach us about infections. But-reader beware!!-the story of germs is filled with twists and turns.

In this fascinating, highly visual nonfiction book packed with colorful, comic-style art, you’ll discover not only the cool ways that animal bodies (and our bodies) fight back against pesky pathogens but also the amazing and surprising ways we can learn to work together with germs.

Sick! The Twists and Turns Behind Animal Germs is written by Heather L. Montgomery with graphic novel-style art from Lindsey Leigh.

My Review

The book begins with a note to readers warning them that not all the questions raised in the book have answers. There are lots of mysteries scientists still explore today and lots of things we can only guess at understanding. With my expectations appropriately tailored, I jumped into reading this book– and was hooked on the fascinating facts inside it.

For most of the book, each chapter focuses on one type of animal and the different pests– pathogens and parasites– that attack it. We learn what the animal has done to adapt to the invaders or, in some cases, what we suspect might be happening. From frogs and alligators to chimpanzees and bats, the book explores facts about lots of different types of animals. It also mentions ways in which our discoveries about these animals’ disease-fighting adaptations may be used to create treatments or vaccines for human diseases.

I found this to be super fascinating stuff. Because I read a pre-release, unfinished copy of the book, I couldn’t see a lot of the final illustrations. A few of the sketches that I could see were a little challenging to interpret. I don’t know if any of the artwork I was looking at is final, though, so it could be that the finished images relate information much more clearly.

On the whole, I think this is a great introduction to animals and diseases and how different species interact. It’s very upbeat and fun, so this isn’t something that intends to scare anyone. It’s engaging and definitely the kind of book that could spark a deeper interest in biology or medicine.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

The text briefly mentions some scientists of diverse backgrounds.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
References poop, as you might expect in talking about animals and the transmission of parasites or germs.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Brief descriptions of territorial battles between alligators that leave the loser short a limb and the methods vultures use to get into carrion. Some brief descriptions of the ways germs and parasites destroy their hosts.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays

I’m sharing this post as a part of a weekly round-up of middle-grade posts called Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays. Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.

About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

11 thoughts on “Review: Sick!: The Twists and Turns Behind Animal Germs by Heather L. Montgomery and Lindsey Leigh

    1. It really was fascinating! Even as an adult reading it, I was really captivated. Thanks, Rosi. 🙂

  1. carolbaldwin – Carol’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8. Carol enjoys teaching writing and has presented at many educators and writing conferences. She has published widely in newspapers and magazines and along with Joyce Hostetter, co-publishes Talking Story, a newsletter for educators and media specialists. Find her thoughts on the writing process, book reviews, and giveaways at When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging about either one of those, you’ll find her walking with friends, golfing, or playing with one of her seven grandchildren.
    Carol Baldwin says:

    I bet the finished book is beautiful and informative. Too bad you couldn’t get to see the whole thing. Sounds like a good STEM book for home or libraries.

    1. Totally agree! Thanks, Carol. 🙂

  2. This sounds a fun way for kids to learn about germs, parasites and other nasties! It’s really good to know this kind of stuff, and this book seems to be very engaging! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Brenda! Happy MMGM to you, too. 🙂

  3. Non-fiction titles like this one are some of my favorite reads. Middle grade readers also connect with topics that might be new to them. Thanks for sharing this one on MMGM.

    1. Nonfiction is quickly becoming a favorite for me, too. There are some really cool approaches to topics like this one. Happy MMGM!

    1. It was super cool. Yeah, I was sad about that. I’ll have to see if our library gets it in. 🙂

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