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

DO YOU KNOW LEECHES?

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. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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