Put this on your middle-grade menu.

EXTREMELY GROSS ANIMALS

STINKY, SLIMY AND STRANGE ANIMAL ADAPTATIONS

From poop-eating dung beetles to wasp larvae in zombified worms, animals survive and thrive in ways humans may find gross.

After reminding her readers that definitions of gross can be cultural as well as innate, Eamer digs right into her disgusting subject, framing her examples to show how what appears to us as distasteful can serve as an animal’s survival skill. Spread by spread she shows how a wide variety of animals might eat, use, or mimic poop, slime and snot, spit, and bad smells. She introduces creatures that discard parts of their bodies and others that attach themselves to and use others’ bodies. Each page opens with an amusing headline, the narrative text describing examples in two or three short sections, each also with a header. The lively design includes captioned stock photographs, often annotated with comments. A fulmar chick vomits a smelly red oil, and the speech bubble says “Blech!” The discarded tails of chameleon geckos squeak. In some cases, such as the ability of velvet worms to spit glue, animal skills have inspired scientific research and practical applications in the human world. Readers are reminded that scientists must move beyond the grossness and ask further questions. There’s plenty of factual information here, but the appeal is the eww factor. Perfect for middle-grade fans of Jess Keating’s Gross as a Snot Otter (2019). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Put this on your middle-grade menu. (glossary, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0337-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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