From the Imagine This! series

Uneven artwork aside, this exploration of water’s vital presence in an arid environment is sure to please.

If you’re thirsty in the middle of the Southwestern desert and you have claws, feathers, or fur, where do you go?

To a welcome water-filled depression worn into bedrock: the tinaja. As soon as the desert begins to cool with the setting of the scorching sun, sounds of rustling signal the stirring of creatures making their ways among the growing shadows. Timid quails, grunting javelinas, cautious mule deer, yipping coyotes, jackrabbits, foxes, bats, and rattlesnakes—each takes a turn for a drink, always watching for a dreaded hawk or prowling cougar. As the sun rises, heating the land, the animals shelter in the shade and wait for the evening once again. Bissonette’s poetic narrative, sprinkled with alliteration, leads readers seamlessly from one desert denizen to another. “A mountain lion approaches….It circles the tinaja with a slow sort of swagger.” Clarifying information bites regarding each featured element or animal accompanies the text. Inexplicably, the pronunciation of tinaja, a Spanish word, is not included anywhere. Weiler wraps the cooling landscape in purples, oranges, and blues. However, some depictions of the desert dwellers are inaccurate. The mountain lion resembles a domestic cat, and the javelinas are depicted with fur instead of bristles; others, such as the ringtail cat and foxes, are spot-on.

Uneven artwork aside, this exploration of water’s vital presence in an arid environment is sure to please. (author's note, bibliograrphy) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-8075-7949-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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