PAISANO, THE ROADRUNNER

With good humor and a keen eye for detail, Dewey (Finding Your Way, not reviewed, etc.) records another close encounter with denizens of the natural world—here, a family of roadrunners. It all begins when the male, later dubbed “Hamlet,” dashes up a wall near the author’s New Mexico home, scouting a nesting site—“Its stance, like its appearance, was contradictory: steady and uncertain, a cross between a cocky magpie and a nervous chicken.” Soon, Hamlet’s mate “Edith” appears, and sometime after, a quartet of chicks, one of whom, Paisano (a Southwestern cognate for “roadrunner”), takes to following Dewey around, even into the house. To the author’s own graceful, evocative drawings Meinzer and three other photographers add crisp color shots of these ungainly, bedraggled-looking birds going about the business of scratching out a living with alert efficiency. Paisano eventually finds a mate and, like his parents before him, moves on, leaving both a writer and a host of readers to be beguiled by these unique birds. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1250-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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

RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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