A lovely telling of a lovely tale.



The enthralling tale of an unlikely champion.

Delayed by a flat tire and a snowstorm, Harry de Leyer arrived at the New Holland, Pennsylvania, horse auction in February 1956 after sales had been completed. The kill buyer had already loaded the unsold horses onto a trailer destined for the slaughterhouse when a gaunt gray gelding with wounds from a plow harness caught de Leyer’s eye. De Leyer, a White man who had emigrated from Holland after World War II, knew something about suffering and bought the horse for $80. Within a few months, Snowman was placidly carrying beginner riders at the exclusive Knox School where de Leyer ran the riding program. However, he tripped over ground poles: He seemingly couldn’t jump. But after being sold to a neighboring farmer, Snowman regularly jumped 5-foot fences to come home. De Leyer bought him back; soon the unlikely pair were winning against the most cosseted and expensive horses in the country. Though de Leyer’s status as a professional riding teacher meant they were ineligible for the Olympics, Snowman became an international favorite. Here, equestrian Letts revises her adult title from 2011. In many ways it’s more successful as a young readers’ edition: With the tighter focus, the sweetness of the relationship between de Leyer—who, though needing money, turned down blank-check offers for the horse he and his children loved—and Snowman shines even brighter. Extensive backmatter enhances this irresistible story.

A lovely telling of a lovely tale. (Nonfiction. 8-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12712-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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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Pretty but insubstantial.


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 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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