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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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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Sketchy text notwithstanding, an eye-filling gallery of creature features.

LIFE-SIZE ANIMALS

AN ILLUSTRATED SAFARI

Nature large in tooth and claw.

Ample enough in trim size (double-page spreads are 15 inches high by 22.4 inches wide) to offer a frontal view of a tiger’s face on the cover and full-body portraits within of evocatively named creatures including both the goliath frog and the goliath birdeater tarantula, this album of digital paintings rivals Steve Jenkins’ classic Actual Size (2004) for both realism and visual drama. Along with portraying the jagged dentifrice of a white shark and the eyes of an elephant, a blue whale, and a giant squid from just inches away, Grott intersperses collective gatherings of naturally posed animal relatives in full or partial views, plus select galleries of outsized tongues, claws, tails, and other parts. Schiavo occasionally waxes grandiose in her one- to three-sentence captions, dubbing bats “Lords of the Night,” for instance and, even less plausibly, hummingbirds “Warriors of the Sun.” She also leaves armchair naturalists unenlightened about how a ball python could keep its eggs warm, how a goliath frog’s lack of vocal sacs would amplify its croaking, or the significance of a musk deer’s pointy “primordial” canines. Still, she does offer common names and measurements (albeit and regrettably in English units only) for each subject.

Sketchy text notwithstanding, an eye-filling gallery of creature features. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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