Book Review – Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

The dream world of Foo is threatened by the dark Sabine and his shadowy minions. Leven, with the help of Winter, who can turn things to ice just by thinking it; Clover, his adorable and fiercely-loyal, cat-like little sycophant; and Geth, the powerful and rightful ruler of Foo, who just happens to be a talking toothpick through most of the book, set out to save Foo by destroying the gateway between that land of dreams and reality.

Skye does an incredible job of bringing his new, imaginative world to life. His main characters, the world they are trying to reach, and even the candy they eat come from a wildly creative mind. The only downside I found to the book was that it spends a little too much time dwelling on Leven’s fear, other than that, it’s a great read. I’d recommend it, if for nothing else, then for the crazy antics of the lovable Clover, unquestionably, my favorite character.

the gateway to foo

The Corpse Flower

The largest single flower in the world, and also the worst smelling, is the Rafflesia Arnoldii, or as it is more commonly known, the “corpse flower.” You get one guess as to what it smells like. That’s right, decaying flesh. This is probably not the flower you would want to grow in your garden unless you really, really don’t like company. They are pretty rare and are usually only found in the Asian rainforests.

Christmas Tree Worms

800px-Christmas_tree_worms

Ok, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I thought these guys were just too cute to wait. The Spirobranchus giganteus, or the Christmas tree worm, lives on coral reefs in tropical oceans throughout the world. They anchor themselves down into crevices they’ve burrowed into the coral.  They are very shy and will retract into their burrows at the slightest perceived threat. Even a passing shadow can spook them, but they will usually pop back up slowly after a few minutes to test the waters.

33_01XmasTreeWormThey have tubular bodies and Christmas-tree-shaped crowns which serve as mouth appendages. They use them to catch plankton and other tiny edibles floating in the water. The food particles are then passed down a “food path” moved along by a water current created by tiny hair-like extensions.

Unlike real Christmas trees, they come in a variety of colors including white, blue, orange, and yellow. They are quite pretty and can live well in home aquariums.

The Elephant Shark

Elephant Fish Mouth

This shark with the funny nose is called an Elephant Shark or an Australian Ghost Shark. Found off the coast of Southern Australia and New Zealand, it uses its snout and trunk-shaped appendage to forage on the muddy ocean floor for food. The end of its snout is covered in pores that can sense movement and weak electrical fields which help it find tasty mollusks and shellfish to eat.

It has a serrated spine that some people think is poisonous, but there haven’t been any reports of serious injury from contact with it even though it’s popular on commercial fishing circuits.

Growing up to a maximum of forty nine inches long, the Elephant Shark has a fifteen year life span.

It might be cool to see if you can catch one the next time you go fishing in Australian.

Foxfire Fungus

Image

 If you’re ever walking alone in the woods at night, and you see something that looks like fairy lights or will o’ the wisps, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, you probably haven’t passed over into a fantasy world full of elves and adventure. Most likely, what you’re seeing is just regular ol’ foxfire fungus.

Even though it’s sometimes called fairy fire, it has nothing to do with tiny, beautiful, flying people. Foxfire fungus is the common name for many fungi that glow in the dark. It’s usually found on rotting wood and emits a blue-green glow using the same chemical reaction that occurs in lightning bugs (fireflies). Normally, it’s pretty dim, but if you’re really lucky, you might see some that’s bright enough to use as a natural reading light.

Image

There are from thirty to forty types of foxfire fungi in the world, and reference to them goes as far back as Aristotle in 382 B.C. They can also be seen in many books, movies, and TV shows from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to TV’s Psych.

Even though, seeing foxfire isn’t an indication that you’ve been transported to a mystical land, it can certainly make you feel like you have. Just don’t go too “Alice in Wonderland” and decide to eat some of it; it will make you very sick.

Image

 

 

The Bleeding Tooth Fungus

The Bleeding Tooth Fungus

OK, let’s be honest. If you saw this in a forest, what would be your first thought? Would you think, “This looks yummy. I’ve got to eat this?” Well, apparently, someone did at one point because this “Bleeding Tooth Fungus” is listed as inedible. Luckily for the person who tried it, it isn’t poisonous; it’s just incredibly bitter tasting. However, it does have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties. Maybe, you’re looking at the penicillin of the future.

Only the young fungi “bleed” (or secrete the red liquid). Once they grow up, they turn into normal, boring mushrooms. Also called “Strawberries and Cream” or “Devil’s Tooth,” they can be found in North America, Central Europe, Iran, and Korea.

A Fuzzy Chicken

Image

Introducing the Polish Frizzle Chicken, a beautiful chicken that is mostly seen in show rings or exhibition halls. They have beautiful and unusual feathers that curl out unlike most other chickens whose feathers lie flat. This gives the frizzle chicken a cute, fluffy appearance. These gentle, quiet chickens come in many colors, but the ones you will see most often are black, white, brown, and blue.

Aren’t they cute? I could just eat one up.

Image