A highly engaging overview that will have readers eager to learn more.

CUTE AS AN AXOLOTL

DISCOVERING THE WORLD'S MOST ADORABLE ANIMALS

A dynamic introduction to 17 of the world’s most adorable creatures.

Keating and DeGrand’s follow-up to Pink Is for Blobfish (2015) and What Makes a Monster? (2017) highlights still more unusual animals. Each double-page spread is dedicated to one particular animal and has four consistent features. On the verso is a large, stock photograph underneath the phrase “Cute as an [ANIMAL].” On the recto is a paragraph with a brief overview of what makes the animal notable; a sidebar with a rundown of the animal’s Latin name, size, diet, habitat, and predators and threats; and a brightly colored pull-out paragraph highlighting a particularly intriguing fact and paired with a cartoonlike illustration from DeGrand. Animals included range from the mandatory (pygmy hippopotamus, fennec fox) to the surprising (pom-pom crab, blue dragon sea slug). Close-up photographs provide excellent detail but don’t provide a realistic scale, especially for the smaller animals, and thus the animals that are cute in part due to their size lose some of their cuteness. A concluding spread explores “the science of cute,” and potentially unfamiliar vocabulary words are highlighted throughout in bold, leading to a glossary in the back. Keating’s chipper voice always shines through (“With its perma-smile and fuzzy face, the QUOKKA is fast becoming one of the world’s best-known cutie-pies”).

A highly engaging overview that will have readers eager to learn more. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6447-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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