Beastly Brains

Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel

Beastly Brains
Beastly Brains Audio Version

Audio Version

In BEASTLY BRAINS, Castaldo delves into the minds of animals and explores animal empathy, communication, tool use, and social societies through interviews and historical anecdotes. Researchers from Charles Darwin to Jane Goodall have spent years analyzing the minds of animals, and today’s science is revolutionizing old theories and uncovering surprising similarities to our own minds. Humans are not alone in our ability to think about ourselves, make plans, help each other, or even participate in deception. You’ll think differently about the animals on this planet — maybe it’s their world and we’re just living in it.


  • Top 10 Sci-Tech Books for Youth: 2017, Booklist Online
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year – STEM 12- 14 years
  • SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2018 for New York State

Book Extensions:

Beastly Brains

With Dr. Laurie Santos in Puerto Rico

Behind the Book:

I wrote about dolphin communication when I was in elementary school and then later in an article about animal communication for The Conservationist Magazine. But, I have a feeling my fascination with animal communication and cognition began with my desire to be Doctor Doolittle, someone who understands and talks to animals. The early movie that I watched as a child showed a veterinarian who thought animals should be treated as more than, well, animals. Having had lots of pets growing up, from traditional dogs and cats to rabbits, hamsters, a mouse, guinea pigs, a parrot, an iguana, tortoises, lizards, frogs, toads, and salamanders, I’ve observed so many creatures first-hand. Writing Beastly Brains provide me with the opportunity to delve into new research and share it all with my readers.

★ “This eye-opening, cogent, and well-structured volume will enlighten students to both the richness of the animal kingdom and the nature of intelligence itself.” — Booklist, STARRED review

“Castaldo (The Story of Seeds) presents a thought-provoking look at the minds and perceptions of animals, as well as the way human understanding of the subject has evolved…” —Publishers Weekly

“The information is conveyed in an enticing way that is sure to spark the interest of aspiring naturalists and researchers… A fascinating take on animal science for tween and teen zoologists.” — School Library Journal