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A broad and engaging introduction to the largest vertebrate group.

Mudskipper shows Trout that it’s not so easy to say “what makes a fish a fish.”

There are thousands of ways to be a fish. While most fish have scales, fins, backbones, a streamlined shape, and gills for breathing underwater, there are surprising exceptions. As he did with the kiwi in All the Birds in the World (2020), Opie picks an outlier to be a main character in this introduction to a wide-ranging animal category. Spread by spread, Mudskipper shows Trout ways that fish are alike and different in underwater scenes filled with clearly recognizable fish. (Scene by scene, over 150 species are identified, according to the key in the backmatter). One spread shows fish that differ in shape and color; another, size; a third, different patterns; and a fourth considers scales. Varieties of sharks and rays illustrate the point that some fish skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Rotating the book 90 degrees reveals fish that swim in dark sea depths. The author also covers nests, eggs, and live birthing as well as different sensory organs, locomotion, and breathing. Finally readers learn what makes Mudskipper special. “There’s never just one way to be a fish,” Mudskipper concludes; narrative text clarifies: “Over 33,000 ways, to be a little more precise.” There’s solid science information in the text, but the story is carried through by conversation between the two named fish. Aquarium visitors will recognize some of the more striking species.

A broad and engaging introduction to the largest vertebrate group. (author’s notes) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4413-3578-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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