From the Gross Science series

A good introduction to the science of scent certain to hook reluctant scientists (and readers) with its yuck factor.

More than you ever wanted to know about why stuff stinks.

Everybody smells—both transitively with their noses and intransitively due to the bacteria on their bodies. But what does the sense of smell do for us? If we smell smoke, as from a burning building, we get nervous. That keeps us safe. The same is true about noticing the foul odor of rotting meat. The meat itself doesn’t give off the odor—it’s the organisms living off the meat that make it smell unappetizing (except to vultures and other carrion eaters). Six million receptors on the olfactory epithelium in the human nose detect scent molecules in the air and transmit that information to the brain. Canadian science writer Kay goes on to explain the connection between scent and memory and how we know what outer space smells like (“a combination of schoolbus exhaust and incinerated hamburger,” according to astronauts). He explains the various reasons animals may benefit from smelling awful (and which ones smell the worst: the green wood hoopoe and the polecat). He tells readers why Limburger cheese smells like feet (they share the same microbe) and which animals are super sniffers (those vultures mentioned earlier can smell carrion from a great distance, and moles smell “in stereo”). All the cheeky stinky facts are accompanied by Shiell’s bright, cheerily gross cartoon illustrations, which depict humans of diverse races being offended and offending others.

A good introduction to the science of scent certain to hook reluctant scientists (and readers) with its yuck factor. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77138-382-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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