Like a meteor shower on an overcast night, this book’s dazzling premise is ultimately obscured by a few fatal flaws.

STAR STORIES

CONSTELLATION TALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

A collection of international stories about the stars, retold by veteran children’s author Ganeri.

In this unusual compendium, Ganeri gathers traditional stories about the cosmos from across six continents. Unlike other star-lore collections that focus solely on ancient Greek folklore and nomenclature, Ganeri features tales from Inuit, Incan, Maori, Sumerian, and other societies, occasionally highlighting the names of constellations as they are known from that culture’s perspective. Each story is introduced by a brief contextualizing paragraph and is accompanied by illustrations from multidisciplinary artist Wilx, whose work employs bold outlines and rich colors. Laudable in its scope, the collection reminds young readers that the stars were not only observed from a Western vantage—for example, the three stars that ancient Greeks saw as Orion’s Belt are known to Tongans as “Alotulu, ‘three in a boat,’ ” and Orion himself was known as Osiris to ancient Egyptians. However, Ganeri’s narrative style fails to captivate over the 23 tales, and there are no appendices on further reading and reference materials. Many Indigenous oral traditions place high significance on the storyteller’s sources and ability to contextualize tales; these aspects are notably absent.

Like a meteor shower on an overcast night, this book’s dazzling premise is ultimately obscured by a few fatal flaws. (Folktales. 6-11)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9505-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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Big and likely to draw a large audience both for its subject and the plethora of interactive doodads.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF ANIMALS

An outsized overview of animal types, senses, and common characteristics liberally endowed with flaps, pull-tabs, and like furbelows.

Della Malva’s realistically drawn animals crowd sturdy leaves large enough to feature life-size (or nearly so) images of the folded wings of a sea gull and a macaw, and Baumann fills the gaps between with meaty descriptive comments. On every page elements that lift, unfold, pop up, or spin aren’t just slapped on, but actively contribute to the presentation. On a “Birth and Growing” spread, for instance, each of six eggs from ostrich to platypus is a flap with an embryo beneath; a spinner presents a slideshow of a swallowtail’s life cycle from egg to adult; and no fewer than three attached booklets expand on the general topic using other species. Subsequent spreads cover animal sight, hearing, body coverings, grasping and touch, locomotion, and—centering on a startling gander down the pop-up maw of a wolf—eating. The animals and relevant body parts are all clearly labeled, and the text is pitched to serve equally well both casual browsers (“Even fish pee!”) and young zoologists seriously interested in the difference between “scales” and “scutes” or curious about the range of insect-mouth shapes.

Big and likely to draw a large audience both for its subject and the plethora of interactive doodads. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-281-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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