WHEN FISH GOT FEET, SHARKS GOT TEETH, AND BUGS BEGAN TO SWARM

A CARTOON PREHISTORY OF LIFE LONG BEFORE DINOSAURS

From the When… series , Vol. 2

The author of When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth (2003) continues her droll but dependable tour of deep prehistory, focusing here on the flora, fauna and fungi of the Silurian and Devonian Periods, approximately 360 to 44 million years ago. This was the time when larger forms of life began to emerge on land, while, among the far richer variety of marine animals, fish wriggled to the top, thanks to newly developed jaws which allowed them “to say good-bye to a monotonous diet of teensy stuff. Now fish could grab, slice and dice to their heart’s content.” By the end, soil, forests and, of course, feet had also appeared. Fearlessly folding in tongue-challenging names and mixing simply drawn reconstructions and maps with goofy flights of fancy—on the first spread Robin Mite and Friar Millipede are caught on a stroll through Sherwood Moss Patch, and on the last, genial nautiloid Amphicyrtoceras plugs the previous volume—Bonner serves up a second heaping course of science that will both stick to the ribs and tickle them. (index, resource lists, time line) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4263-0078-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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