An intriguing package for curious readers that both celebrates and informs.



From the Our Amazing World series

Fascinating facts about rivers.

In the vein of the publisher’s Amazing Islands, by Sabrina Weiss and also illustrated by Hyndman (2020), this volume describes freshwater waterways around the world. Opening with a page of general definition, Agnone and Hyndman go on to use more than 100 examples of rivers from around the world to explain topics such as source and flow, what and who can be found in and around rivers, how they’re used, how they’ve been spanned or channeled, threats, and gems, ores, and other treasures. There are plentiful examples of wildlife, human activities, and natural wonders, including caves, waterfalls, ice pancakes—even a river that reverses its flow seasonally. The Colorado, Tigris and Euphrates, Amazon, Yangtze, and Li rivers get chapters of their own. Each big subject is addressed in short, titled paragraphs set on colorful, stylized illustrations on a double-page spread. The layouts are varied, with close-ups and vignettes as well as maps and broad river scenes. There is interesting use of shadow and texture. The people shown are racially diverse. At the center of the book, a foldout map of the continents of the world shows all the rivers described. Sadly, the index doesn’t include them all. The text may be challenging for some readers, but the presentation has plenty of browser appeal. There’s an extensive list of sources, all available on the internet.

An intriguing package for curious readers that both celebrates and informs. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-26-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.


From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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