Adds nuance to the old saw that we are what we eat…in an all-too-informative way.



Poop has been put to enough worthy uses down the years to fill a book. “This is not that book.”

Instead the author, a pediatric physician, zeroes in on the “poop, pee, vomit, and secretions that people put in their mouths.” Why? “Because that’s way more fun. And way more gross.” Dispelling any lingering reader hesitancy with a not-altogether-superfluous trigger warning, she proceeds to emit a stream of anecdotal observations—on how substances including boar dung, pus, and ox snot were ingested for medicinal purposes (fancied or otherwise) in ancient times and fecal transplants today treat intestinal infections; on the insect origins of the glaze used in the manufacture of candy corn and other sweets; on honey (“sweet insect vomit”) and more-localized delicacies such as haggis and jellied moose nose; what houseflies do when they land on your food; and the many uses of maggots, to name a few. Along the way she also tucks in bad jokes, the odd common-sense advisory, and stomach-churning historical incidents. She also spreads plenty of science around…including a mention of the FDA’s online Food Defect Levels Handbook that will definitely send readers racing for their keyboards. Briggs adds line cartoons (not seen in finished form), from a honey jar with a vomiting bee on the label to an ancient Roman toilet complete with communal butt-wiping xylospongium. Text type and graphics are all printed in appropriately brown tones, including humans of diverse racial presentations.

Adds nuance to the old saw that we are what we eat…in an all-too-informative way. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24679-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Godwin Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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The stories of the births of the universe, the planet Earth, and a human child are told in this picture book.

Bauer begins with cosmic nothing: “In the dark / in the deep, deep dark / a speck floated / invisible as thought / weighty as God.” Her powerful words build the story of the creation of the universe, presenting the science in poetic free verse. First, the narrative tells of the creation of stars by the Big Bang, then the explosions of some of those stars, from which dust becomes the matter that coalesces into planets, then the creation of life on Earth: a “lucky planet…neither too far / nor too near…its yellow star…the Sun.” Holmes’ digitally assembled hand-marbled paper-collage illustrations perfectly pair with the text—in fact the words and illustrations become an inseparable whole, as together they both delineate and suggest—the former telling the story and the latter, with their swirling colors suggestive of vast cosmos, contributing the atmosphere. It’s a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle.

Wow. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7883-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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