A fun, intriguing, and accessible mix of anatomy and history, with a healthy dose of gross.



That irritating itch that cannot be scratched away is an experience just about everybody can relate to, and here are the entertaining and informative explanations of what’s behind those itches.

There are approximately 500 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, and 1,000 nerve endings in 1 square inch of skin, and there’s lots of flora and fauna to irritate that sensitive epidermis. In an engaging, substantive text and comical color illustrations, Sanchez and Ford reveal the assorted plants and creepy crawlies that make us itch and scratch. The tiny critters who irritate, such as bedbugs, fleas, lice, and mosquitoes, all share the common goal of sucking our blood. If you are an unfortunate recipient of skunk spray, the itch it gives you may be worse than the smell. You should handle caterpillars and tarantulas with care. When you’re strolling through the great outdoors, beware of poison ivy, oak, and sumac, nettles, prickly pears, and burrs. There’s great advice on how to soothe your itches and nontoxic alternatives for keeping away the sources. Itching isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a good scratch can alert us that something’s wrong, and the “hygiene hypothesis” posits that irritating things may actually make us healthier. Humans depicted in Ford’s colorful cartoons are of varying skin tones; the vibe for the depictions of such pests as lice and fleas is humorous rather than icky, offering a nice balance to the text.

A fun, intriguing, and accessible mix of anatomy and history, with a healthy dose of gross. (glossary, notes, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-81101-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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.


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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