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Whooo knew? Owls are awesome.

Everything you always wanted to know about owls, from their peculiar eating habits to their unique vision, hearing, and how they raise a family.

Transcending the usual clichés we all know about owls—“the unforgettable call. The glowing eyes. The fierce beak”—this elegantly designed picture book skillfully reveals the diversity and variety intrinsic to the order. High-quality, detailed photos of a number of different species of owl are thoughtfully juxtaposed with pertinent questions, scientific information, and a cartoon great horned owl who provides humorous “Whooo Knew?” factoids. The power of this fascinating predator really comes across in the superb color photos of owls snatching and swallowing prey, vomiting up pellets, spinning their heads (yes they can do this because they have 14 neck vertebrae!), and engaging in other characteristic behavior. Each double-page spread asks a pertinent question: “What’s for dinner?”; “How do owls hunt?”; “Do owls puke?” (no, they just regurgitate pellets); “Do owls sleep all day?”; “Do owls see in the dark?”; “What good are feathers?”; “What do owl babies do?” Ever wondered what owl tufts are for? (They’re not ears but mood indicators.) There is an environmental message embedded in the book, and a section on building owl-friendly habitat offers suggestions for how readers can help. Backmatter features a brief primer on owl anatomy, instructions on how to dissect an owl pellet, and a glossary. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22.75-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Whooo knew? Owls are awesome. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6962-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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