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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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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