Another splendid addition to a shelf filled with interesting invitations to the wonders of nature.

Bold markings and showy displays make some animals stand out.

Arnosky’s characteristically detailed nature drawings and paintings illustrate an album of animal hams. Short chapters describe “skin spreaders” such as lizards and snakes, “noise makers” like bellowing alligators, “inflators” like the male magnificent frigatebird; deer, goats, and sheep with horns and antlers; fish with inviting or warning colors; and birds with distinctive plumage. Each chapter includes full-bleed, full-page acrylic paintings plus sidebar pencil drawings (some colored) to accompany the explanatory text. Interspersed are fold-out spreads of two and even four pages showing the fanned tails of a peacock and a turkey, fully developed antlers on an elk, and fancy plumes on a great egret. The author’s informative narrative is chatty and personal; his well-chosen examples include animals he’s observed in the wild near his homes in Vermont and Florida as well as animals from far-off places, such as the Australian frilled lizard. Some drawings have extra labels in script as if they were taken from his notebook. As with others in this series, like his most recent Hidden Wildlife (2017), this can be read aloud or alone, but it is designed for the same kind of careful, repeated attention the longtime naturalist pays to the outdoor world.

Another splendid addition to a shelf filled with interesting invitations to the wonders of nature. (author’s note, additional reading) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2809-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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