BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Striking photographs of birds that might be seen in the eastern United States illustrate this new collection of 14 poems in varied forms. From bald eagle to marbled godwit, the range is wide. It includes familiar feeder birds like chickadees, birds of ponds and shores like wood ducks, hooded mergansers and sandpipers, as well as less-common birds like the great horned owl, rufous-sided towhee and cedar waxwings. Semple's splendid photographs show birds in the wild—flying, perched in trees or on slender reeds, running along the sand and even bunched on a boardwalk. The colors are true, and the details sharp; careful focus and composition make the birds the center of attention. Yolen’s poems comment on these birds’ appearances and their curious actions. An eastern kingbird is "a ninja of the air," and “...oystercatchers, unafraid, / Continue on their stiff parade.” The mockingbird’s “Threesome Haiku” matches his triple repetition of the tune he mocks. Some of the poetry limps, making an easy point rather than enlarging the reader’s understanding, but some is memorable. Perhaps most effective is the rhythmic “Terns Galore”: "Turning terns are all returning / There upon the shore." Short sidebars add interesting, informative details about each species and Donald Kroodsma, a well-known ornithologist, has added a short foreword. This is a welcome companion to A Mirror to Nature and An Egret’s Day (both 2009). (Informational poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59078-830-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library.

FOLLOW THOSE ZEBRAS

SOLVING A MIGRATION MYSTERY

From the Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries series

Scientists solve the mystery of a disappearing zebra herd.

A herd of plains zebra regularly vanishes from the Chobe River flood plains in Namibia and Botswana during the dry season, but until Robin Naidoo and other scientists fitted some of these animals with GPS trackers, no one knew where they went or why. Markle (The Great Shark Rescue, 2019, etc.) ably describes the species, its habitat in the Serengeti Plain, the phenomenon of migration, the science research, and its surprising results: a “record-holding zebra migration” to the grasses in Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park, which have extra nutrients for the mares and the foals they bear there. Her clear explanations are accompanied by well-chosen and informatively captioned photographs from a variety of sources. The lively design includes a striking zebra-coat background surrounding boxes with additional information and images. Maps help American readers locate this migration in southern Africa. One that includes the tracked migration routes of eight females demonstrates the astonishing directness of the 155-mile journey undertaken by seven (the meandering route taken by the eighth is unexplained). The author concludes with concerns about the possible effects of the changing climate and how conservation groups are planning to help the zebras so that they can continue to travel unimpeded and find water on their way.

A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library. (author’s note, fast facts, glossary, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3837-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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