A lavish array of big, bright, close-up photos of lush desert flowers and scaly or many-legged creatures will entice young naturalists to dip into this quick visit to the Sonoran Desert. The text isn’t likely to draw nearly as much notice, though it does have its moments: “We look around and find the lizard’s little black droppings. They crumble as you pick them up—they are made of nothing but the digested remains of dead ants!” The author, a BBC cameraman, opens with one spread on deserts of the world and a second that tallies proper gear for brief outings, then takes young readers out into the scrub for illustrated encounters with a nesting hummingbird, cacti (“Plants that Bite”), a Gila monster, and other wildlife. After side visits to the Grand Canyon and unidentified cliff dwellings, he closes with warnings about environmental threats. Less a specific travelogue than a series of cursory field notes and generalities (“Native Americans are very skilled at using the plants that grow in the desert as medicines”), this companion to Tim Knight’s Journey Into Africa (not reviewed) and Journey Into the Rain Forest (2001) is designed more for armchair travelers than readers with a serious or assignment-driven interest in desert ecosystems. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-19-515777-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...



The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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