Engaging stories that will hook kids, send them looking for traditional stories, and perhaps encourage some to take up the...

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SERPENTS AND WEREWOLVES

STORIES OF SHAPE-SHIFTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

From the World of Stories series

A storyteller puts her own stamp on 15 traditional tales from four different continents about shape-shifters, those people who turn into animals and back again.

In her afterword, Don explains, “I’ve altered all these stories as I tell them to make them work for me and for the audience I’m telling to.” She carefully states her sources and then explains her adaptations, sometimes saying that children have given her ideas. There are occasional anachronisms. “Yuck” seems to be a favorite way to express disgust, but Don wants her readers to feel comfortable. If she loses some gravity in her tellings, she quickly gains readers’ interest. A kid understands completely the boy who becomes a buzzard in a tale from Mexico and says “Yuck!” when he finds out that he must eat dead bodies. “Mom” and “dad” are used in the final story, about a child becoming a werewolf, more original than most of the others, although “inspired” by a German tale. The black vignettes (occasionally reused) and the small drawings of a branch with a caterpillar from “The Ashkelon Witches” (a Jewish folk tale) appearing as a header and the snakes from “The Snake Prince” (from the Punjab) flanking the page numbers contribute to the book’s handsome design. Two other series entries publish simultaneously: Ghosts and Goblins: Scary Stories from Around the World and Magic and Mystery: Traditional Stories from around the World, both by Maggie Pearson and illustrated by Greenwood.

Engaging stories that will hook kids, send them looking for traditional stories, and perhaps encourage some to take up the art of oral (and written) storytelling. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5124-1321-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A scrumptious concept but overcooked.

FOOD ATLAS

DISCOVER ALL THE DELICIOUS FOODS OF THE WORLD

Picture the endless variety of foods that make up the world’s menus.

Small, labeled images of various nations’ main food products, including grains, meats, fruits, fish, vegetables, and dairy products, are scattered over 41 country maps and nearby bodies of water. Due to lack of room or perhaps poor design, popular dishes are placed outside the country’s borders, often within the landmass of an adjoining or nearby country, providing very perplexing impressions. For example, the page for Argentina shows the food products (Pampas cattle, sweet potatoes, wheat, etc.) within the Argentine border and the popular dishes (such as the dessert dulce de leche and the “national dish” of asado, “flame-grilled meat”) outside the national border. The inclusion of nonfood marine animals such as whales and dolphins is both unfortunate and confusing. The book is organized by region, and several individual countries are featured in each section. European countries predominate in this Italian import. Minimal coverage is given to the African continent, but unusually, Madagascar is included. The book could be a visual feast, but due to the sheer amount of poorly presented graphic information, it ends up a jumble. The notions of “slow food and slow fish presidiums” are inadequately explained. There is no index and no references, highly inappropriate for this informational text. Readers can browse but cannot easily find information that they may want to revisit.

A scrumptious concept but overcooked. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77085-952-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher.

MICROBES

A playful introduction to bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, archaea, and protozoa.

Readers are going to need a basic grounding in cytology from the start, as Gallagher drops such terms as “nucleus” and “organelles” into the discourse without defining them and rushes past plasmids without explaining what they are or do. Likewise, though she fits out all of the jelly-bean–like cells and microbes in her lighthearted illustrations with expressive faces—not to mention occasional limbs, fashion accessories, and hair—she rarely includes recognizable biological components. She’s not particularly systematic either, as she mentions four major components of the human immune system but goes on to describe only two. More usefully, along with frequent mentions of how ubiquitous microbes are, her main focus seems to be laying out microbial types and subtypes, from the five shape-related groups of bacteria to the even more ancient archaea (Crenarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, and Korarchaeota), and describing their individual distinctions and how they reproduce. Polysyllabic as some of this content is, the breezy presentation should impart to general students, as well as budding microbiologists, a nodding acquaintance with our single-celled neighbors and residents.

Scanty for a stand-alone guide but definitely a vocabulary enricher. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63411-009-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thunderstone Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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