One of the most satisfying folklore collections in recent memory. (Folk tales. 7-11)

WHISKERS, TAILS & WINGS

ANIMAL FOLKTALES FROM MEXICO

Five animated, traditional tales are enhanced by ethnographic information about the indigenous peoples who still tell these stories.

The author has selected tales not from the well-known Aztec or Mayan tradition, but from the Tarahumara, Seri, Huichol, Triqui and Tseltal peoples. Each short tale is followed by a description of the group’s traditional customs and their contemporary lives, including their use of cars and computers (and, in the Huichol chapter, ceremonial peyote by chosen adults). The stories attest to the ingenuity of the cricket, Señor Grillo, over the force of Señor Puma’s army and to the steadfastness of Mosni, the sea turtle, whose journey to bring sand from the ocean floor enabled Hant Caai, the Seri god of creation, to create land that humans would inhabit. The Huichol story explains why the opossum has a bare but prehensile tail. The humorous Triqui tale describes insects invented by their god of creation to make Man and Woman do some real work, and the last story recounts the scary encounter between a large buzzard and a small frog. The book is handsomely designed, with full-bleed acrylic-and-watercolor paintings on heavily textured papers starting off each story. Realistic vignettes emphasizing folk art and intricate clothing illustrate the informational sections. Comprehensive glossaries (with pronunciation guides) accompany each story, and a scholarly bibliography and index round out the volume.

One of the most satisfying folklore collections in recent memory. (Folk tales. 7-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58089-372-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

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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