DO YOU KNOW LEECHES?

Strong-stomached browsers will lap these up; budding naturalists will find better intellectual nourishment elsewhere.

A dribble of scientific information about everyone’s favorite bloodsucking worm provides a Canadian cartoonist with opportunities for some rousingly icky visual commentary.

The informational text comprises such lines as “Most leeches live in fresh water,” or “Oftentimes, doctors would apply up to 100 leeches per session,” arranged in no discernible order and placed inconspicuously at the bottom of each page. They caption cartoon scenes of a young collector cheerfully dumping a slimy bucketful into his horrified parent’s bathwater, a doctor leaning over a desiccated patient (“Something tells me we might have left these leeches on a bit too long”), a child refusing to enter a pond for fear of the creatures—unaware that her back is covered with them—and other views of comically caricatured leeches and their prey in action or conversation. Though readers will be at least exposed to some basic information about these creatures’ habitats, body parts, dietary habits, reproductive practices and uses in medicine, Sampar’s gross-out gags and comics will definitely make, and leave, the more lasting impression. This outing is published with seven series mates that offer less revolting but no less superficial (and, OK, diverting) introductions to chameleons, crocodiles, crows, porcupines, rats, spiders and toads.

Strong-stomached browsers will lap these up; budding naturalists will find better intellectual nourishment elsewhere. (glossary, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-318-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

Categories:

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

DO YOU KNOW KOMODO DRAGONS?

Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books”...

Spatters of blood and other body fluids serve as the chief attraction for this cursory look at our largest living lizard.

Printed in squint-worthy type, most of the handful of casually phrased facts and factoids chucked in at the bottom of each spread relate to eating habits: Komodo dragons are “fast and swift,” they “shred apart large prey,” and they most commonly die from cannibalism. Budding naturalists will also learn that Komodo dragons vomit when they need to make a quick exit, and they shake their victims hard enough to spray the surrounding landscape with voided dung or even inner organs. Sampar illustrates all of this behavior in loving, gory (thoroughly gory) detail—though in his cartoons, which take up the lion’s share of each spread, the Komodos stand on hind legs, dress in human clothes, and deliver wisecracks or remarks (“You couldn’t have done that in the garage, dear?”) placed in speech bubbles. A similarly anthropomorphized cast chows down through like-titled introductions to dinosaurs, hyenas and praying mantises.

Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books” palls. Maybe not the best choice for pre-lunchtime reading, though. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-339-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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