As stimulating as a blast of chicory root.

READ REVIEW

FLOWER POWER

THE MAGIC OF NATURE'S HEALERS

With an assist from author Paxmann and translator Michael, “Hajek has chosen to tell the stories of some of our most amazing plants, using words and illustrations to spark our imaginations.”

That’s what the introduction asserts, and the book delivers. It is perfect for browsing; open at any point, and a double-page spread offers a complete package of informative, often humorous, text on the verso and whimsical, colorful art on the recto. As the endnotes explain, all pages are deliberately treated to appear as if painted on wood. Nevertheless, the print—including colored headings and teaser questions—is easy to read. The text, dexterously translated from German, unabashedly relates the (Eurocentric) histories of Hajek’s chosen flowers. The art follows suit with its highly stylized, folk-art–inspired images of mostly white people garbed in fashions from earlier centuries. The exceptions are a graceful depiction of an Indian woman with ginger—since the root arrived in Europe via India—and tattooed people who might represent South Americans or Pacific Islanders with the pineapple. Each plant’s story is unique, but all give bits of history, folklore, and science. Some fascinating facts relate how modern science has confirmed nearly miraculous botanical properties already known and taught by generations of lay healers and researchers, as in the case of pineapples’ bromelain. There is a rudimentary explanation of phytopharmaceuticals. Other facts are simply fun: Who knew about a salt-shaker patent modeled on the red poppy’s seedcase?

As stimulating as a blast of chicory root. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7399-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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