ON THE WING

AMERICAN BIRDS IN MIGRATION

“About five billion land birds from five hundred species leave their North American nesting area to spend the winter farther south,” according to Lerner (My Indoor Garden, 1999, etc.), but that’s only part of the story told in this remarkable look at bird migration. The author here describes bird flight patterns North-South, East-West, and up and down from higher to lower altitudes with the changing seasons. She explains why some birds migrate all the time but others only some times, and why still others just stay home. Nearly every page has a helpful thumbnail map and a handsome painting of birds. Most intriguing are scientific studies about how birds prepare for migration, and how they find their way. For example, the tiny hummingbird adds 40 percent to his weight before migration, and can travel 500 miles nonstop. Lerner reports scientists have found “magnetite,” or lodestone, in the heads of homing pigeons, suggesting they have a built-in magnetic compass. Other studies show caged birds with a pattern of the northern sky on the ceiling attempt to fly in their migratory path. If some stars are removed, the bird still flies in the correct direction, but if all stars are removed, the bird is confused and flutters in all directions. The author concludes with suggestions on birdwatching, groups, and guidebooks. This is super science, beautifully presented. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16649-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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