A simply written animal tale with grade school–accessible vocabulary that’s sure to entertain children despite the mixed...



What does it take to raise chickens in the city? A woman and her cat find out in this true story by debut author and photographer Burrill.

“I’d heard that it’s cheap, easy and fun to raise egg-laying chickens in the city,” Burrill begins, her words accompanied by a clip-art chick and a photograph of her home’s garden shed. As she recounts the tale on text-dense pages, always with her own photographs or clip art present, she reveals it is indeed inexpensive to begin this project, but that the time and effort required to care for chickens and collect their eggs are far more than she bargained for. First, she purchased three small chicks, whom she kept indoors in a heated cage. It was there that her black cat, Tinker, fell in love. Rather than want to eat or torment the chicks, Tinker mothered them, draping herself on top of their cage to watch their antics. Burrill invited some local children to name the chicks (Daisy, Maizey, and Omelette). As the three grew, their chirping became louder, and Tinker fretted about her brood. Her worries only became worse after they moved outside to the backyard. After the chickens matured, Burrill was excited to see the first egg, but she was not prepared for Maizey escaping over her backyard fence to discover a good laying spot. Maizey led Burrill on a wild hunt, laying her eggs in odd places, and soon the other chickens followed suit. The chickens’ mischief overshadowed Tinker’s role in raising them, but eventually the cat helped Burrill locate an escaped hen. This child-friendly series opener offers an appealing tale. But some of the references and puns the author makes may fly over the heads of young readers (about the notion of buying grocery-store eggs, she explains, “I’d feel like a traitor, an ‘Eggs Benedict Arnold’ ”). And the human cast lacks diversity. Nevertheless, children should easily imagine Burrill having to rake out seven hidden eggs from beneath her shed and her attentive cat protectively watching over the adorable chicks. The clip art adds little to the text, but the author’s photographs are excellent, giving readers a clear sense of what it’s like to be a chicken-raising hobbyist.

A simply written animal tale with grade school–accessible vocabulary that’s sure to entertain children despite the mixed style and quality of the illustrations.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5144-4989-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2017

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.


The prolific author returns to an old love: angling for trout.

“Any day fishing on a wintry river is a great day,” writes Kurlansky, refuting Tolstoy’s grumpy assertion that angling is “a stupid occupation.” His river of choice is the appropriately named Salmon, in central Idaho, where the water flows so swiftly that Lewis and Clark named it the “River of No Return.” It’s not open in winter, notes the author, but there are other wintry rivers where one can test “the only two rules of fly fishing that cannot be broken: you cannot fall in and you must keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Everything else depends on circumstance.” This being a book by Kurlansky, who never met a fact he didn’t like, the narrative turns from his experiences as a fisherman to a more universal history. First come the fish themselves, the salmonids, which people have been harvesting for millennia. Only one of those species is a true trout, namely Salmo trutta, the brown trout, with every other kind of trout so called only because they resemble it. The author then moves on to the “acclimatization” projects of the French and the British, “an imperialist concept in an age of Empire,” whereby British anglers felt it was only proper that the brown trout follow the course of conquest, which explains why it can now be found in places such as New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, “to assure that anywhere a British colonist went, there would be good game for a fly rod.” As for rods and flies, Kurlansky geeks out, reciting names that are known to this day: Charles Orvis, for one, whose contributions to the tackle box are legion; and Clarence Birdseye, the frozen-food magnate whose automatically retracting reel when a fish struck was a dismal failure since “hauling out the fish is part of fishing.”

Stuffed full of trivia, data, lore, and anecdote—a pleasure for any fan of trout fishing.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021


Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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