REAL-LIFE SEA MONSTERS

A new addition to the expanding and worthy On My Own Science series makes science feel as mysterious and exciting as science fiction. Jango-Cohen stirs the imagination by sharing spooky sea lore and then moves to scientific research to examine the reality within the myth. The gigantic Kraken rises from the depths and pulls ships under the sea; the real monster, the giant squid that can be up to 57 feet long, is just as fascinating. Tales of yore also spoke of wicked mermaids who drowned children; scientists posit that these were actually manatees, themselves endangered by humans, and so on. Durney’s pearlescent, flowing illustrations make for an eerie and alluring underwater effect. “Every year, scientists find more than 100 new species of ocean life,” and this is a marvelous way for transitional readers to plumb the depths. Also out this month is The Search for Antarctic Dinosaurs, by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by John Bindon (ISBN: 978-0-8225-6752-3). (glossary, “Fun Facts about Sea Monsters,” bibliography, further reading, websites) (Informational early reader. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8225-6750-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: First Avenue/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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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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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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