Good fun, if less grist for young would-be Edisons than the earlier outing.



The author of Inventions That Could Have Changed the World but Didn’t (2015) mocks, or occasionally tips his hat to, a further set of outlandish contraptions.

Actually this is more of a spinoff, and an inferior one at that. Several of the same inventions stage encore appearances, Rhatigan’s descriptive comments are more cursory overall, and actual patent drawings have been dropped, leaving only cartoons that supply more yuks than insight into how the gadgets work. Still, some products, such as bird diapers marketed as “FlightSuits,” armpit air conditioners, and the 42-string “Pikasso” guitar built for Pat Metheny, have gone beyond the conceptual stage, and the author takes care to identify the creators of nearly everything here. Also, there are plenty of truly noodle-headed notions to chortle over (or abhor): a motorized baby carriage; a protective tongue sleeve for cat lickers; a frameless bicycle (“for people who needed more excitement and injuries in their lives”); and a baby onesie that’s also a floor mop. In her geometrically stylized illustrations, Aires at least visualizes each invention in action, and her wedge-shaped human figures come in all sorts of primary colors.

Good fun, if less grist for young would-be Edisons than the earlier outing. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63322-294-6

Page Count: 113

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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