A child-friendly invitation to dive in.




Striking photographs illustrate this collection of marine animals, a sampling of remarkable creatures that live in and around the ocean.

This substantial revision of the author’s Oceans: Dolphins, Sharks, Penguins and More (2010) repeats much from the earlier volume, including the introduction by Sylvia Earle, the general description of the oceans of the world and their layers of life, and some of the informative text. New material has been added; the design has been spiced up; and old text rearranged and illustrated with different, beautifully reproduced action photographs. Separate, color-tabbed sections describe coral reefs, sharks and rays, marine mammals, whales and dolphins, marine reptiles, marine birds, and “bizarre creatures.” Interspersed are spreads on “ocean extremes” of various sorts (explorers are lowered to the polar ice on “ice buckets,” for instance). The reorganization makes better sense than the original’s, and the new material includes a section on habitats and a description of the National Geographic–sponsored Pristine Seas Project. Rizzo’s information is conversationally delivered, accurate, and likely to appeal. This new version capitalizes on children’s familiarity with the Disney Pixar marine world: a blue tang (like Dory) swims across the front cover; a clownfish (like Nemo) peeks out of the title O, and several more hide among anemones on the back cover. As before, it concludes with 20 sensible ways even landlocked readers can help protect the water world.

A child-friendly invitation to dive in. (glossary, index, picture credits, acknowledgments) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2506-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Pretty but insubstantial.


Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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