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


From the Who Would Win? series

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. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.


From the Over and Under series

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 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.


Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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