A pleasing and informative package with surprising depth.

READ REVIEW

THE WORLD OF WHALES

GET TO KNOW THE GIANTS OF THE OCEAN

Fascinating facts about whales, dolphins, and porpoises, presented from an underwater perspective.

This handsome and generous pictorial introduction to cetaceans demonstrates both the variety and the value of this group of ocean dwellers in an engaging way. What’s striking is the amount of information conveyed. An illustrated table of contents, organized into three sections—baleen whales, toothed whales, and the world of whales—is followed by two spreads describing the evolution of these aquatic mammals from a four-legged “cat-sized plant-eater.” The thoughtful design intersperses spreads about whale life among spreads about individual species: fin, humpback, bowhead, blue, gray, minke, and right whales; Cuvier’s beaked, beluga, and sperm whales; orcas, porpoises, dolphins, and narwhals. Short paragraphs, many with descriptive titles, are set against relevant, realistic illustrations. The backgrounds of these pages are all shades of blue. Most depictions of specific species include a measuring stick in 3-foot segments (metric equivalents are provided), a tiny silhouette of a scuba diver to compare relative size, and car and bus icons (explained in the glossary) to indicate their weight. The blue whale segment folds out, reflecting its tremendous size. Most spreads include an inviting “Did you know?” fact, noted with a sea star. Finally, the author offers some facts about the ocean in general, some ways that whales are threatened, and how humans can help.

A pleasing and informative package with surprising depth. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-89955-830-2

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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