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Just enough info to whet the appetites of budding cryptozoologists.

A collection of creepy cryptids for the courageous connoisseur.

This alphabetic encyclopedia of 50 creatures rates each from one to six stars, where one is a confirmed hoax (Australia’s Drop Bear, a killer koala conceived to scare tourists) and six is a creature once known as a cryptid that is now accepted as real (Peru’s Isothrix barbarabrownae, an elusive tree squirrel). In addition, Halls classifies each by type: aerial, aquatic, humanoid, etc., and offers a comparison to a familiar real-world animal (e.g. the Dingonek from Kenya is “cat-like”). Along with the date and location of the first putative sighting, each entry offers a “factoid,” a summary of eyewitness accounts, and usually three black-and-white pencil illustrations: the adult beast, its skull, and a baby or juvenile version. Factoids are tidbits not included in the eyewitness accounts that usually relate the beast’s history. Here and there throughout the text are single-page “Cryptid Extras,” including a rundown of cryptid appearances in cartoons and video games and the address of the International Museum of Cryptozoology in Portland, Maine. A list of cryptids by type, many more than are in this volume, a further reading list of books and online articles, and a glossary close this fantastical field guide.

Just enough info to whet the appetites of budding cryptozoologists. (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-210-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Pretty but insubstantial.

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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