For elementary school readers, there are plenty of better introductions than this concoction, including Caroline Arnold and...

WHALES AND DOLPHINS

From the Explorers series

This collection of topically organized factoids about the whale family shares the flaws of others in the publisher’s Explorers series: an overbusy design; unrealistic, digitally assembled photo pastiches; and a series of useless “buttons” that purport to lead readers on a topic trail.

Two by two, the double-page spreads introduce cetaceans (a word not used in the book) as mammals, their ocean home, food, birth and family life, migration, river dolphins, and watching and saving whales. On each page are paragraphs of information, text boxes and a photo riddle; on pages with photo montages are numbered captions. Except for the pages on the birth of a whale, which feature sperm whales, these spreads include a variety of species. The composite illustrations show scenes that would be improbable in real life: Gray whales leap and spyhop over a leatherback sea turtle, a manta ray and a school of anchovies; whale watchers see, all at once, minke and right whales, a breaching humpback, dolphins and harbor seals. The photographs come from a variety of commercial libraries, but there are no sources offered for the information nor suggestions for further research. The index is extensive but doesn’t include every animal mentioned.

For elementary school readers, there are plenty of better introductions than this concoction, including Caroline Arnold and Patricia J. Wynne’s Super Swimmers (2007). (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6815-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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