Readers are likely to view their world more carefully after learning of the important role decomposition plays in the cycle...

READ REVIEW

ROTTEN!

VULTURES, BEETLES, SLIME, AND NATURE’S OTHER DECOMPOSERS

Thankfully, most stuff rots.

This colorfully illustrated effort is aimed at a grade school audience that’s sure to be appreciative of an oft-stinky subject. Sanchez breaks the broad topic of decay down into a multitude of subtopics, covering dung beetles, animal scavengers, fungi, the decomposition of a log, earthworms, decomposition in the home, a comparison of natural rot vs. what doesn’t happen in a landfill, and finally, human decomposition—including mummies and preserving bodies in honey or alcohol. The information is doled out in small doses, usually just a paragraph at a time, and always on brightly colored pages (a couple of which are a bit challenging to read because of insufficient contrast between text and page color). Plenty of amusing, cartoony illustrations accompany the text and enhance its accessibility. Basic instructions are included for creating a compost pile, growing red worms, and making whole wheat bread. Although the illustrations and bright pages give the book a frivolous look, the information is generally accurate and in sufficient depth for the audience. The bibliography consists almost entirely of adult reading materials, however, and there are no suggestions for further reading for young inquiring minds.

Readers are likely to view their world more carefully after learning of the important role decomposition plays in the cycle of life. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-84165-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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