Books by Peter Bull

ROBOTS by Chris Oxlade
by Chris Oxlade, illustrated by Peter Bull
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 16, 2014

"Substandard nonfiction series fare, aimed at a slightly older audience than the publisher's Kingfisher Young Knowledge entry on the topic (2003) but a clean miss. (Nonfiction. 8-10)"
This haphazard jumble of military, domestic, space, toy and industrial robots is unlikely to draw young technophiles for more than a quick once-over. Read full book review >
WHALES AND DOLPHINS by Anita Ganeri
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 16, 2013

"For elementary school readers, there are plenty of better introductions than this concoction, including Caroline Arnold and Patricia J. Wynne's Super Swimmers (2007). (Nonfiction. 7-10)"
This collection of topically organized factoids about the whale family shares the flaws of others in the publisher's Explorers series: an overbusy design; unrealistic, digitally assembled photo pastiches; and a series of useless "buttons" that purport to lead readers on a topic trail. Read full book review >
EXPLORERS:  REPTILES by Claire Llewellyn
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 2011

Two new entries expand the subject diversity of the Explorers series, marked by their short paragraphs of information, extensive index, labeled pictures and panoramic scenes. Carole Stott's concurrently published Stars and Planets is a very generalized introduction to space, focusing on the stars, moon, planets, space travel, astronauts and robotic space technologies. This title, the stronger and more in-depth of the two, focuses on four groups of reptiles: snakes, crocodilians, lizards and turtles and tortoises. Using a wide variety of examples across the four groups, Lewellyn teaches children about reptiles' diets, habitats, predators, defenses, adaptations, births and interactions with humans. Unfortunately, the flaws of previous titles continue in these, to varying degrees. "What is it?" thumbnails still ask readers to identify objects from their close-up views; in most cases these objects can be found in the larger artwork, although they are not named. Color-coded icons are meant to link similar topics within each book, but the connections between pages may not be immediately obvious to readers. These connections are only spelled out in detail in a section of backmatter entitled "More to explore," where children can also learn a few more facts about each topic. Illustrations vary between stunning photographs and rather stilted-looking digital images. An OK beginning for children just discovering their individual interests. (Nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
EXPLORERS: OCEANS AND SEAS by Steven Savage
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2010

Together with Dougal Dixon's companion volume that publishes simultaneously, Dinosaurs (ISBN: 978-0-7534-6402-1), this entry in the Explorers series seeks to keep readers' attention with pictures, digital illustrations, short snippets of information and labeled panoramic scenes. But the series's two major gimmicks are fatally flawed. "What is this?" thumbnails ask readers to identify an object (an anemone, a sea urchin) from its close-up, but in most cases that object either cannot be found on the page or is not identified. Color-coded icons connect similar topics throughout the text, allowing readers to follow their own interests, but it can often be a challenge to make those connections—they are tenuous at best. Both books feature vibrant photos and illustrations, but in the case of this title, the juxtaposition of real photos with digital illustrations can be jarring. Backmatter includes more facts that fit into each icon category and an index. Fascinating facts and a broad background of information would make these good introductory nonfiction choices, but their flaws limit both their use and appeal. (Nonfiction. 7-11)Read full book review >