1001 BIRDS

Flock away from this one.

A hodgepodge of bird facts.

While there is a throughline to this book—the annual migration of swallows from Europe to Africa—it may take young listeners most of the book before they realize it, as it’s a subtle aspect that is buried in an avalanche of seemingly miscellaneous facts about many different species of birds. From habitats and nesting habits to prey and how birds fly, the facts come hard and fast in small paragraphs of text scattered across the pages, though there isn’t much rhyme or reason to their order—wingspan is used several pages before it is defined—and some information is repeated, even on the same page. Rzezak’s stylized birds have expressive eyebrows that unfortunately often make them look angry. The stylization can also at times make species look too similar to one another, as on the page shared by the sociable weavers and the swallows, which differ in shape only in their tails. On a page with lots of birds on a power line, the one redheaded swallow readers are told to find on every spread is among a group labeled blackbirds instead of with its fellow swallows at the other end of the line, and its body type matches the blackbirds’. Various words are bolded in the text, species names among them, but there is no glossary, and the book lacks backmatter and a map as well, serious lacks in a nonfiction text for children.

Flock away from this one. (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780500653241

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023



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


A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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