Excellent for the natural history and science shelves.

READ REVIEW

THE BOREAL FOREST

A YEAR IN THE WORLD'S LARGEST LAND BIOME

Carmichael offers explanations and illuminations about the planet’s largest land biome while Bisaillon supplies collage-style art in muted tones.

Poetic language in large print, set against the backdrop of a snowy woodland scene, begins a book with thoughtful text, art, and layout: “Glaciers melt, soil breathes, seeds fly on a warming breeze. Trees creep ever, ever north.” Every double-page spread reveals germane science and geography or presents an appealing landscape showing an aspect of seasonal changes in the boreal forest. A winter-scarf motif acts as a unifying design element, serving as background to the names of countries whose flora and fauna are highlighted on various pages. Fascinating facts emerge from two sources: the lyrical language that describes a day for animals in a particular place and season and sidebars with pure scientific facts. The chosen facts are current, and the text carefully notes when scientists are still testing hypotheses about such ideas as how birds seem to use an organ called the Vitali to sense pressure changes before storms. Gentle humor is interspersed throughout. Climate change is frequently mentioned, both in terms of its effect on the boreal forest and on the ways in which this biome slows down global warming, and Indigenous peoples’ roles as participants in the boreal forest’s ecosystems are not ignored. The accessible text proves its point that the boreal forest is both vast and vital.

Excellent for the natural history and science shelves. (glossary, resources, index) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0044-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

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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