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Will provoke “content grunts” in nature lovers.

Readers learn about gorillas in general and also how staff at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo managed two rare coups: getting a mother gorilla to bond with her rejected baby and incorporating baby Yola into the zoo’s existing gorilla family.

The layout, charts, and colorful photographs are enticing. A bright table of contents establishes six chapters, which hint of the story to come, starting at “Firstborn” and ending with “A Family at Last.” Nadiri, the 19-year-old gorilla who gives birth to Yola, was herself raised by humans in a sterile nursery, so it is no surprise to staff when Nadiri gives birth and walks away. Judy, Harmony, and other staff members have come to understand in the interim that “mothering is a learned behavior.” The text gives many examples of the ways that these dedicated people work to teach Nadiri mothering skills, including providing dolls to hug during pregnancy and tempting her with sweet treats to get her closer to her baby. Readers become familiar not only with Yola and Nadiri, but also with family members Akenji—an extroverted female—and Leo, a shy silverback male. Although slim and full of pictures, the book demands fairly able readers. There is a great deal of text—albeit with simple syntax—and many detailed explanations, not only of the changes in Nadiri’s family, but of several related topics.

Will provoke “content grunts” in nature lovers. (endnotes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4240-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Pretty but insubstantial.

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 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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