A timely, uplifting story.

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CAMP PANDA

HELPING CUBS RETURN TO THE WILD

Deforestation, poaching, pollution, human overpopulation, and climate change have severely damaged the habitats and population of giant pandas in their native China, but government-supported conservation efforts are helping bring back a species that is considered a national treasure.

Thimmesh explains the work of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in the Wolong Nature Reserve, which uses a three-stage program to reintroduce pandas to the wild. The goal of the program is to create a self-sustaining wild panda population, one that can survive and breed without human intervention. Since baby pandas are not born with an innate set of survival skills, CCRCGP scientists must teach the cubs those skills, such as how to find food, avoid predators, and seek shelter. To mitigate human contact with cubs in training, scientists must wear giant panda costumes rubbed all over with excrement and urine so that they look and smell like giant pandas when handling and interacting with cubs. Thimmesh acknowledges critics of this ambitious, expensive program but explains that the panda has become an adored iconic species, and conservationists can build upon their popularity to “broaden public awareness and support for a wider spectrum of conservation concerns.” Complementing Thimmesh’s thoughtful, engagingly written text are many arrestingly adorable color photographs of pandas in training and in the wild.

A timely, uplifting story. (photos, source notes) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-81891-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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