Almost too much—but hatchling naturalists will swarm over this like ants at a picnic.



This bug lover’s delight teems with arthropod images and facts.

The survey is highlighted by a fat-tailed scorpion rearing up dramatically from one opening and a 3-D cockroach the size of an adult hand on another, its inner as well as outer anatomy depicted in exacting detail. These are no exceptions; Kay’s insects, arachnids and other creepy crawlies look lifelike enough to skitter off on their own. McGavin, a veteran entomologist, fills the spaces around them with quick but specific facts about body parts, behaviors, weapons and defenses, life cycles and habitats. A final gallery of his “ultimate bugs” covers record-setting size, speed, venomousness and like need-to-know extremes. The pages are designed to look like crosses between scrapbook leaves and the general clutter in a scientist’s desk drawer.  Readers may be as dizzied as they are dazzled by the wide array of scripts and typefaces as well as the evident intent to cram as many flaps, foldouts, accordion-folded minibooks, pull tabs, slide-out panels and pop-up cutouts as possible into the book.

Almost too much—but hatchling naturalists will swarm over this like ants at a picnic. (Pop-up/nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6762-7

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story.


After her mother succumbs to heart disease, 13-year-old Lydia goes to live with her mother’s older sister, Aunt Brat, and her wife, Eileen, in their small Connecticut town.

Almost immediately the loving couple adopts a large rescue dog that becomes mostly Lydia’s responsibility. The unfortunate animal isn’t even housebroken, and Lydia’s most decidedly not a dog person, so caring for Guffer is challenging. So is trying to be cordial—but not too friendly—with her 12 eighth grade classmates. Previously home-schooled, Lydia’s not quite ready for the friend thing. Secrets, like who could have been responsible for maiming two baby goats or why Brat is secretly caring for them at a neighbor’s farm, complicate life. Background plotlines (an angry neighbor who hates Guffer, Lydia’s absent father, and the cause of Guffer’s anxieties) all gradually evolve. Similarly, Lydia slowly learns to cope with her grief, sometimes aided by spending time with “the goddesses”—artistic collages of strong women that she and her mother crafted. Gentle, fully fleshed characters (most seemingly white) are lovingly drawn in this long tale of healing, but the pacing is sometimes frustratingly slow. Although she’s clearly intelligent, Lydia’s first-person narrative often seems more like the voice of an adult than a young teen. In spite of these minor flaws, her poignant tale is engaging and uplifting.

An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story. (Fiction.10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-279678-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A charming series opener.


From the Magic in the Walls series , Vol. 1

A foundling mouse sets out to uncover the mystery of her origins and of the magical needle sized for humans that was left with her.

Delphine’s travels begin with a summons to the palace, where her growing reputation as a brilliant seamstress commands an order for a ball gown for Princess Petits-Oiseaux—and also gives her a chance to discover exciting hints about a vanished order of needle-wielding magic mice known as the Threaded and of an ancient war with the rats. Meanwhile, no sooner does Midnight, cruel king of the rats, learn that the needle they have been seeking for a century has been found than said old war suddenly heats up and turns into a deadly chase. Also meanwhile, only barely noticed by the animal cast but sure to snag readers’ attention, certain events involving another seamstress, a pumpkin coach, a ball, a prince, and a glass slipper are happening above the floorboards in the parallel human world. That isn’t the only sly touch in this bibbidi bobbidi debut, which is rich in clearly delineated character types, features plenty of brisk action, and is also, overall, more than a bit reminiscent in tone and setting to Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (though with more focus on fashion than food). While this volume is mostly setup, heroes and villains alike end up on their marks, and plenty of loose ends remain to stitch up later.

A charming series opener. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04802-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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