Full of fascinating answers to the question “How do animals do it?”

DO ANIMALS FALL IN LOVE?

Courtship, mating, birth, and child rearing are common across the animal world, but the details can be surprising.

The German creators of Tell Me: What Children Really Want To Know About Bodies, Sex, and Emotions (2020) return with this collection of intriguing facts about animal reproduction, which might be termed a book of carnal knowledge for middle-grade and middle school readers. Sex-educator von der Gathen organizes her material into three major subjects: courting, mating, and babies. Subdivisions within each section group examples of the wide array of techniques adopted by different species. For example, seduction includes showy appearances, dances, attractive smells, songs, and battles with rivals. Each example describes the activities of a single species in a paragraph or two of exposition, delivered in a cheerful, informal tone, smoothly translated, and illustrated with an amusing cartoon of the animals described. Each section also includes pages of illustrated comparisons, with helpful labels. One set shows a variety of mating positions; another spotlights “ingenious genitalia”; there are animal babies. Examples include both vertebrates and invertebrates. Readers can make human connections, but the writer doesn’t. What she does do is to demonstrate the wonder of species reproduction as well as her respect for her audience with frankness and good humor. They will find it irresistible in tone and content.

Full of fascinating answers to the question “How do animals do it?” (index) (Nonfiction. 8-15)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-776572-91-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge.

BILL NYE'S GREAT BIG WORLD OF SCIENCE

With an amped-up sense of wonder, the Science Guy surveys the natural universe.

Starting from first principles like the scientific method, Nye and his co-author marvel at the “Amazing Machine” that is the human body then go on to talk up animals, plants, evolution, physics and chemistry, the quantum realm, geophysics, and climate change. They next venture out into the solar system and beyond. Along with tallying select aspects and discoveries in each chapter, the authors gather up “Massively Important” central concepts, send shoutouts to underrecognized women scientists like oceanographer Marie Tharp, and slip in directions for homespun experiments and demonstrations. They also challenge readers to ponder still-unsolved scientific posers and intersperse rousing quotes from working scientists about how exciting and wide open their respective fields are. If a few of those fields, like the fungal kingdom, get short shrift (one spare paragraph notwithstanding), readers are urged often enough to go look things up for themselves to kindle a compensatory habit. Aside from posed photos of Nye and a few more of children (mostly presenting as White) doing science-y things, the full-color graphic and photographic images not only reflect the overall “get this!” tone but consistently enrich the flow of facts and reflections. “Our universe is a strange and surprising place,” Nye writes. “Stay curious.” Words to live by.

Wordplay and wry wit put extra fun into a trove of fundamental knowledge. (contributors, art credits, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4676-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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