Entertaining and modestly enlightening.



From the Q&A series

Imagined interviews with 10 wild animals reveal more than just the facts.

With the help of an ingenious invention and a large dose of imagination, Seed talks with animals from all over the world about their lives. The premise that these are his studio guests may draw readers into this mix of fact and fancy. Bengal tiger, wolf, giant anteater, honey badger, jaguar, polar bear, lion, giant armadillo, snow leopard, and three-toed sloth each take their turn to answer the usual sorts of questions, about their looks, their favorite foods and eating habits, and their families and friends, as well as some surprising ones. Much humor comes from the different personalities reflected in their replies: The wolf is ill-tempered; the snow leopard is erudite and must keep rephrasing his answers for the interviewer’s understanding; the sloth can’t stop cracking jokes. Illustrator East’s cheerful cartoon creatures add to the fun. The giant anteater poses like a media star, licking up termites with his superlong, spit-covered tongue. “I know, I’m beautiful, aren’t I?” The honey badger is impressively fierce (though, sadly, the “bees’ nest” supposedly depicted is really a wasps’ nest). The polar bear balances precariously on bits of disappearing ice. Most of these animals state that habitat-destroying humans are a major problem. This English import ends with a reminder to readers that some of these “guests” are endangered, suggesting a variety of ways to help. A final quiz will cement a few fast facts.

Entertaining and modestly enlightening. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78312-647-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Welbeck Children's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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