Rancid rhymes and syncopated stank and plenty of eeeew just for you.

What is that pong? These critters smell wrong!

“Eek, you reek, / You made a funk. / Where you have been / Things stink, stank, stunk.” Yolen and daughter Stemple (Monster Academy, 2018, etc.) team up again for a collection of poems that…um, celebrate those animals large and small that make the world a smellier place. The requisite skunk and stinkbug are joined by their lesser-known putrid pals. There are the stinkpot turtle, or Sternotherus odoratus (“There you are, oh odoratus, / With your musky turtle status. / Small mud-loving omnivore / That raccoons equally adore. / You pump out bad perfumes galore / When chased down by a predator”), and the hoatzin, a very smelly bird that digests like a cow and smells so foul no animal will eat it. A trio of haiku about icky insects adds to the fun (and info), as do longer poems on ferrets, musk oxen, wolverines, Tasmanian devils, and more. Nobati’s green-tinged, digitally painted pencil drawings depict the reeking wretches and virtually make the stink visible. A paragraph of information on each creature graces the close, as does a glossary of smelly words and a fetid further reading list. The tone is fresh, however, and the foolish foulness may just hook those who think poetry stinks.

Rancid rhymes and syncopated stank and plenty of eeeew just for you. (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5124-8201-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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