Best for browsers who like their facts fast.

READ REVIEW

ANIMALS THAT MAKE ME SAY WOW!

Cusick explores how gravity-defying flight, coiled and tubelike tongues, bite-proof armor and other surprising adaptations in animal bodies and behavior provide a competitive edge.

This presentation of amazing animal facts is loosely organized into three sections: defense, foraging and anatomy. There’s a short introduction for each section followed by a series of boxed explanations interspersed among a gallery of close-up photographs, mostly from the National Wildlife Federation archives. Some images are quite wonderful: a family of cygnets riding a swan’s back, a porcupine chewing on a branch, an unidentified moth with a coiled tongue. Others are really too small to see details well. Some images are clearly labeled with the creature’s name; others can be guessed from the nearby text, but some will be mysteries (perhaps better than the “great egret” caption for the snowy egret picture). Readers are asked some thought-provoking questions as well as offered cool facts. Scavenger-hunt challenges in the concluding section call for both inside and outside research. A companion volume, Animals That Make Me Say OUCH!, follows the same format, but its third section deals with adaptations for hostile environments. Both titles feature lively, colorful design.

Best for browsers who like their facts fast. (read more, glossary, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62354-041-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Imagine Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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