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

DO YOU KNOW KOMODO DRAGONS?

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. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Readers would be far better served by a good beginning atlas. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

CATCH CAT

DISCOVER THE WORLD IN THIS SEARCH AND FIND ADVENTURE

While searching for the titular cat on seven different continent maps, readers will encounter famous sights, products, cultural customs, and other interesting objects.

Two pages with paragraphs describing a few illustrated items precede each double-page–map spread, which bristles with them, including the aurora borealis (counted as one of Europe’s attractions), the Chinese terra-cotta army (Asia), and the Halley VI research station (Antarctica). There are no political boundaries, and the stylized maps are somewhat skewed to fit the page size, which is large but not big enough for the scale of some. Mexico, for instance, is barely distinguishable on the map of North America. Many interesting visuals have no explanation, and without country labels, it will be difficult even for many adults to help young readers figure out what some of these pictures represent. For example, there is no text about the whirling dervishes of Turkey, members of a Sufi religious order, illustrated in their distinctive white clothing. Turkey, which is located in both Europe and Asia, is pictured here in Europe. Some kids will be fascinated and possibly resourceful enough to do some research to find out more about the objects, animals, and people not described, but many will be frustrated by the experience. An answer key to the cat’s location is given on the last page, but the feline almost seems to be an afterthought.

Readers would be far better served by a good beginning atlas. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-766-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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