LOOK UP!

BIRD-WATCHING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

A chatty, appealing introduction to observing these easiest-to-see of all wild creatures.

Amusing scenes of loquacious birds and occasional human observers fill these busy pages. The pen-and-ink–and-watercolor cartoons are reminiscent of Roz Chast, with speech bubbles carrying much of the information. Where it would be informative, birds are labeled. Their variety is astounding; the page on coloration alone shows 60 different species from across the country. Cate’s enthusiasm is catching, but she starts simply. She talks about looking at birds in one’s backyard and neighborhood, with no special tools except for a sketch book—not since drawing is easy but since the effort requires close attention to details. She addresses color, shape and activities before moving on to using field marks to distinguish similar-looking birds. A comical central spread shows a sparrow fashion show, with the different species sporting their distinctive decorations. She discusses plumage variations, sounds and the use of field guides. The fact that birds look different because they live in different places and behave in different ways leads to consideration of habitat, range and migration. Finally, an explanation of classification includes an introduction to scientific names. The bibliography has good suggestions for birders of any age. Small and accessible, this is jam-packed with accurate information likely to increase any potential birder’s enthusiasm and knowledge. (index, drawing, tips) (Nonfiction. 8-15)

 

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4561-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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