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From the Story of a Keystone Species series , Vol. 3

A visually engaging introduction to a keystone species.

A visit to a prairie and its inhabitants through a wealth of photos.

This cute and clever rodent features in many children’s books. Patent’s, however, as the title hints, is more about the prairie ecosystem itself and the role of the prairie dog. Like the beaver in her 2019 book in this series (with photos by Michael Runtz) and the gopher tortoise in Madeleine Dunphy’s 2010 series contribution (with photos by Michael Rothman), this species is a keystone, supporting many others in its environment. Focused on some of the “roughly 150” other animals living “in and around” occupied and abandoned burrows, the book sketches a prairie dog’s day, from the emergence of a female at daybreak. The caption tells us that she “signals to her three young pups” but offers no description of that sound. This book is not the place to find basic facts—life span, predators, etc. But some habits, like prairie dog kisses, are noted, and backmatter expands on the animals’ colonies, range, and population before the arrival of European settlers. Cross-section diagrams show an occupied burrow, with labels, and a similar cutaway of an abandoned burrow. Like those by the different photographers in each series book thus far, the pictures are stunning. They fill every page in a patchwork of landscapes and close-ups with sharp details and discreet labels (horned lark, killdeer, pronghorn, and much more), letting us stroll invisibly through the inhabited prairie. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A visually engaging introduction to a keystone species. (map) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781970039061

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Web of Life Children's Books

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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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 Everything Awesome About… series

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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