No substitute for getting down and dirty in the greenery but a good and visually memorable start.

BUGS IN THE BACKYARD

A gallery that will bring young naturalists close—very close—to common creepy-crawlies.

“Bugs” in this case includes earthworms, snails, and water bears, along with well over three dozen arthropods sharing worldwide distribution, from cat fleas and woodlice to grasshoppers, blowflies, and spiders. Huge, high-resolution stock photos or micro photos of representative specimens are set against black or blurred-out backgrounds to bring colors and finer details of anatomy into spectacular high relief. Around these, smaller photos share space with digestible chunks of introductory comment, distinctive features, definitions of scientific terms, and bulleted facts. Though living up to its titular promise that at least some species of all the chosen invertebrates are likely to be near at hand in any reader’s habitat, this is not a field guide. Nor, aside from an advisory against collecting or even touching live insects, does the author offer guidelines for outdoor expeditions, instructions for hands-on projects, or resources for further study. Along with realizing that movie aliens and monsters have nothing over what nature has on display, though, even casual browsers will absorb some basic information about the wildlife that, would they but look a little closer, wriggles and scampers all around.

No substitute for getting down and dirty in the greenery but a good and visually memorable start. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77085-697-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books”...

DO YOU KNOW KOMODO DRAGONS?

Spatters of blood and other body fluids serve as the chief attraction for this cursory look at our largest living lizard.

Printed in squint-worthy type, most of the handful of casually phrased facts and factoids chucked in at the bottom of each spread relate to eating habits: Komodo dragons are “fast and swift,” they “shred apart large prey,” and they most commonly die from cannibalism. Budding naturalists will also learn that Komodo dragons vomit when they need to make a quick exit, and they shake their victims hard enough to spray the surrounding landscape with voided dung or even inner organs. Sampar illustrates all of this behavior in loving, gory (thoroughly gory) detail—though in his cartoons, which take up the lion’s share of each spread, the Komodos stand on hind legs, dress in human clothes, and deliver wisecracks or remarks (“You couldn’t have done that in the garage, dear?”) placed in speech bubbles. A similarly anthropomorphized cast chows down through like-titled introductions to dinosaurs, hyenas and praying mantises.

Not much intellectual nourishment on offer, but a refreshing change of menu when the diet of conventional “true books” palls. Maybe not the best choice for pre-lunchtime reading, though. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-339-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Even ailurophobes can appreciate the fascinating information about felines, provided they can get through the confusing...

SUPER CATS

TRUE STORIES OF FELINES THAT MADE HISTORY

With a colorful layout and plentiful photographs, this nonfiction book for younger readers explores cats in history, from honored Egyptian animals through their wartime work to today’s lovable therapy cats.

Readers may be familiar with cat mummies and some of the various breeds, but MacLeod goes beyond common factoids to share more-surprising information: it was a crime to kill cats in ancient Egypt; much of Europe could have been spared the Black Death by cats; and stealthy felines detected hidden spy equipment during the Cold War. Each chapter begins with an imagined narrative—most are told from a cat’s perspective—that doesn’t match the straightforward nonfiction tone of the book. The chapters are related in short, choppy sections filled with many blurbs, sidebars, and callouts. While most of the side notes are interesting, in one busy chapter on lucky cats, they are actively disruptive and disorganized. Not all of the book’s featurettes are helpful, and some may actually confuse, as in an instance when not all cats pictured are described while some cats described are not pictured. Disappointingly, the book ends abruptly without a reflection on any of the incredible history or stories shared.

Even ailurophobes can appreciate the fascinating information about felines, provided they can get through the confusing layout and some unhelpful sidebars. (timeline, places to visit, sources, further reading, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55451-994-1

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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