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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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.

ULTIMATE OCEANPEDIA

THE MOST COMPLETE OCEAN REFERENCE EVER

A compendium of all things oceanic, from surface to depths, covering biology, geology, coasts, climatic phenomena, and human use and abuse.

Considering the size of the general topic, the coverage isn’t as shallow as it might be. Hundreds of crisply professional nature photos and big, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams anchor waves of densely packed but often breezy commentary (“Many parrotfish species also make their own sleeping bags at night—out of mucus!”) that Wilsdon pours in beneath such headers as “It’s a Shore Thing” and “Belize It or Not!” Overviews of each ocean, of plate tectonics, the action and effects of ocean currents, worldwide climate change, and physical features from islands to abyssal plains sail by in succession, but marine biology takes pride of place with page after page of photogenic sea life from tiny krill on up to whales and polar bears. The author profiles a marine ecologist and interviews an oceanographer to cap chapters on modern research, exploration, and industries, then closes with generous lists of sites to visit physically or virtually.

A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2550-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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An appealing, elegantly designed introduction to another much-maligned species.

THE HYENA SCIENTIST

From the Scientists in the Field series

A practiced and proficient team returns to the African plains to visit a field camp in Masai Mara, Kenya, where zoologist Kay Holekamp has been studying spotted hyenas for 30 years.

This surprisingly engaging title introduces a species whose bad reputation is nearly universal. Holekamp disagrees. Her study of eight generations of hyenas has revealed the spotted hyena to be “an unexpectedly brave, smart, and extremely social species” as well as the “most formidable carnivore in Africa.” During their 10-day visit, Montgomery and Bishop go with the researchers for morning and evening observations, watch one sedate a young male with a dart gun so all can take measurements and specimens, see a skirmish in a war between rival factions of the large Talek West hyena clan, and, during a downpour, when flood threatens, help evacuate precious specimens and equipment. Montgomery’s graceful prose draws readers into the experience with clear explanations and vivid description. Bishop’s striking photographs show off the doglike hyenas’ furry cuteness. He includes close-ups of cubs at play and rest, researchers at work, and adult hyenas interacting with one another, as well as tent scenes, other wildlife, and the always-impressive scenery. Readers may be inspired by the stories of the white scientist’s diverse team of assistants: a retired medical social worker, U.S. graduate students, and a young Kenyan who hopes to study in the U.S.

An appealing, elegantly designed introduction to another much-maligned species. (fast facts, bibliography, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-63511-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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