Inspiring for all those kids who look at the world in wonder and ask, what if? (Informational picture book. 5-11)



An introduction to biomimicry and engineering for young readers learning to see connections.

The format of the book follows a predictable pattern. One double-page spread with a rhyming poem describes something in nature (“The kingfisher sits upon a perch / And spies a silvery flash. / He swiftly dives to catch a fish / But barely makes a splash”) and is followed by a second spread that examines the animal or plant in more depth, with an explanation about how engineers adapted what they observed to solve a problem: Changing the noses of Japanese bullet trains to match kingfishers’ streamlined beaks meant they wouldn’t boom loudly when exiting tunnels. After a walk with his dog, George de Mestral wondered how burrs stuck to fur. He saw their tiny, curved hooks under a microscope, and Velcro was born. Bats’ echolocation led to the design of a cane with a vibrating handle to help blind people navigate. Other natural inspirations include geckos’ sticky feet, whales’ bumpy flippers, pitcher plants’ slippery sides, and pill bugs’ rolling up. DiRubbio’s watercolors match the text. The first spread shows the animal or plant in its environment. The second uses vignettes to enhance the text’s explanation as well as engineering drawings emphasizing the appropriate aspect. Backmatter includes a short glossary and a design challenge meant for teachers to use with students.

Inspiring for all those kids who look at the world in wonder and ask, what if? (Informational picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58469-658-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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 quick flight but a blast from first to last.


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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