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A pathologically good time.

How do germs make animals—and people—sick, and what defenses do bodies have?

With this kid-friendly introduction to immune systems and the enemies they battle, Montgomery adds to an impressively entertaining body of work. Organized around different animals, the chapters follow scientists noticing odd happenings in the face of infection—or animals avoiding expected infection entirely. Montgomery highlights the questions these scientists ask: What’s the connection between frog temperature and infection survival? Why do ants kill infected pupae? How do injured gators survive their bacteria-heavy environment and vultures their contaminated food? The author traces the scientists’ logic as they test various hypotheses; she then demonstrates how we can learn from these findings to devise new strategies to help people. Keeping her tone conversational, occasionally relying on anthropomorphizing, and framing her stories as mysteries, Montgomery makes even the most complex concepts concrete and digestible—young readers won’t just understand the microbiology at play; they’ll enjoy the subject, too. Illustrations throughout also enhance clarity as well as (especially in short comic panels) keeping the book fun. Gross facts (“Chimps pee and poop right off the sides of their daybeds!”) are just the cherry on top of this book that brims with child appeal. Final art not seen.

A pathologically good time. (more super symbionts, selected sources, illustration credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781547609857

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude.

A deceptively simple, visually appealing, comprehensive explanation of volcanoes.

Gibbons packs an impressive number of facts into this browsable nonfiction picture book. The text begins with the awe of a volcanic eruption: “The ground begins to rumble…ash, hot lava and rock, and gases shoot up into the air.” Diagrams of the Earth’s structural layers—inner and outer core, mantle, and crust—undergird a discussion about why volcanoes occur. Simple maps of the Earth’s seven major tectonic plates show where volcanoes are likeliest to develop. Other spreads with bright, clearly labeled illustrations cover intriguing subtopics: four types of volcanoes and how they erupt; underwater volcanoes; well-known volcanoes and historic volcanic eruptions around the world; how to be safe in the vicinity of a volcano; and the work of scientists studying volcanoes and helping to predict eruptions. A page of eight facts about volcanoes wraps things up. The straightforward, concise prose will be easy for young readers to follow. As always, Gibbons manages to present a great deal of information in a compact form.

Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude. (Nonfiction picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4569-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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

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