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Review: ‘Mini-Monsters’ Up-Close with Earwigs, Mites, and Lice

Whether or not you like getting up-close and personal with insects, you won’t be able to resist this app. I can’t think of a better way to introduce students to the world of microscopic (and slightly larger) creatures.

A Head Louse from 'Mini-Monsters' (Gschmeissner), LLC

Title: Mini Monsters
Illustrated by: Steve Gschmeissner, Eye of Science, Power and Syred
Developed by: Partners, LLC
Platform: iOS, requires 4.3 or later
Price: $2.99

Gr 4 Up-Employing a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), photographer Steve Gschmeissner, Eye of Science, and Power and Syred present more than 500 captioned images of a variety of beetles, worms, spiders, and other minute creatures.

A number of hand-colored images of each of 53 animals featured are generally available and can be viewed full screen—one at a time or in a slideshow. A tap to an icon brings up the Latin name, common name, a picture credit and some information about the creature and the image. Most of the animals are of the familiar variety: ticks, fleas, butterflies, mosquitoes, but a few more exotic species are introduced as well. The detail in the high-resolution magnified photos is extraordinary. There are many awe-inspiring shots of animals against a black or contrasting background, and many close-ups of parts: a tarantula’s fangs, a caterpillar’s spines, a soldier ant’s jaw, the scales on a moth’s wings, and the hooks of a tapeworm, for example. For an even closer look, there’s a zoom capability.

The alphabetical index and a visual index consisting of small images will guide viewers, as will the listings and subdivisions under carnivore, omnivore, herbivore, or detritivore. “Advance filter options” allow users to limit searches by number of legs, threat level (“safe,” “painful,” or “deadly”), and whether or not the creature can fly. The keyword search capability is of limited use.

While the captions would be difficult for a young elementary student, there’s no age limit on the appeal of this app. It’s guaranteed to mesmerize, and perhaps, change the way we think about these well-armed, fascinating species.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal