Plant this one on your bookshelf.

Over a dozen plants—each with an unusual adaptation in terms of defense, reproduction, or food supply—are presented in colorful double-page spreads with fascinating information.

A beautifully rendered table of contents features a passionflower vine winding across its aquamarine pages and indicates three chapters that divide plants into the categories mentioned above. The introduction, which sports a brilliantly colored flytrap against bright purple hues, is clear and concise, ending with this sentence: “Prepare to be surprised as you ‘leaf’ through the pages of this book!” Throughout, the text continues to be conversational and humorous, although liberal with rhetorical questions and exclamation points. Each short chapter begins with a double-page spread that mentions characteristics typical to most plants, an excellent segue into the atypical facts to come. For example, after a brief explanation of pollination, readers learn that snapdragons ensure that any creature sipping their nectar will also acquire pollen to take to the next blossom. How? Tiny flies Kaner calls “ ‘cheater’ insects” are not heavy enough to push down the lower “lip” and access nectar, but big, heavier bumblebees get access—and get covered with pollen to spread around, too. Readers are introduced to concepts including symbiosis and photosynthesis as well as the inspiration for Velcro. The layout is excellent, and the collages are extraordinary. For best results, start at the beginning, but read only one or two pages a day; there’s lots of information here.

Plant this one on your bookshelf. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-369-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020


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


From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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