An eyeful for active or armchair vacationers, though more a general overview than a guidebook.


A panoramic sampler of our park system’s flora, fauna, and other natural wonders.

Siber and Turnham map all 60 parks but highlight 21 of the more popular ones. For each of the latter, a general introduction is paired with a big landscape (or underwater) view on one spread, and the next follows up with a small location map plus images of 10 or so distinctive plants, animals, and geological features with brief descriptive comments. The entries are arranged in geographical groups going, roughly, east to west but in no logical itinerary. Created digitally in a serigraphic style, the art has a retro, travel-poster look that complements the breezy narrative’s message that these are places worth visiting: “Just about everything in the 49th state is bigger and gnarlier than in the Lower 48.” Family groups hiking, swimming, or marveling at vistas in most of the larger pictures are (for a change) more often dark-skinned than light. Though the art’s palette runs to muted greens, blues, and oranges, figures stand out sharply—in contrast to the smaller blocks of text, which are printed in a skinny-skinny type that can be hard to see when placed over dark or multihued backgrounds. Still, readers fond of outdoorsy activities will respond to this inviting array of sites, scenery, and wildlife in natural settings.

An eyeful for active or armchair vacationers, though more a general overview than a guidebook. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84780-976-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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


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)



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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