Will provoke “content grunts” in nature lovers.

READ REVIEW

GROWING UP GORILLA

HOW A ZOO BABY BROUGHT HER FAMILY TOGETHER

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 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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