From the Who Would Win? series

An overly fact-packed science book that’s not written for the squeamish.

Some of nature’s toughest animals battle one-on-one in a set of five death matches.

When animals go into battle with each other, lots of factors can determine who will win, from a creature’s tough skin to its ability to inject poison in its foe. This work collects five books that detail what might happen in to-the-death fights between a Komodo dragon and a king cobra; a tarantula and a scorpion; a whale and a giant squid; a hyena and a honey badger; and a falcon and a hawk. Before the result is played out as a what-if mini-story with photorealistic illustrations, readers will find pages and pages of facts. For anyone who likes trivia about animals, each fight contains volumes of factoids and bite-sized lessons in biology. So much so that small sections, each labeled “Fact,” are piled with “Bonus Facts,” “Fun Facts,” “Interesting Facts,” “Gross Facts,” “Yummy Facts,” and “Sharp Facts” (in relation to teeth) in addition to “Dangerous Definitions,” warnings for humans, and “Did You Know?” sections. It’s quite a lot, enough to make one exhausted from information overload before the final verdict. The fights pull no punches, with animals getting bones broken and poisoned to death. Sometimes the logic doesn’t exactly follow. After a snake kills a Komodo dragon, the next line in the text reads, “Maybe next time, the Komodo dragon will bite first.” Seems unlikely. Occasional humorous asides (“The Tarantulas would be a great name for a football team”) keep the book from being a totally dry undertaking.

An overly fact-packed science book that’s not written for the squeamish. (who has the advantage checklists) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-84155-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


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


From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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