Uniquely thought-provoking and important.

IF ELEPHANTS DISAPPEARED

From the If Animals Disappeared series

The latest installment in Williams’ series shows how elephants’ survival affects the whole world.

African forest elephants are a “keystone species,” defined here as one whose “actions—from walking, to eating, to pooping, to sleeping—shape their environment.” The interaction between elephants and the complex ecosystem that makes up the tropical forest is explored, from how elephants shape their environment to how that environment would change without elephants, ending with how readers can help ensure they don’t disappear. As elephants walk thousands of miles through the forest, eating hundreds of pounds of plants each day and spreading their dung throughout the area, the undigested seeds in their dung are moved around, diversifying the ecosystem. But “poachers are killing elephants faster than they can reproduce.” If their dung disappeared, plant biodiversity would decrease, which would affect the animals and the forest soil—even the forest’s ability to survive. Standing in for readers, two black children in jeans and T-shirts enter the forest with a black adult, appear throughout the story, and, at the end, draw a “save the elephants” poster. The structure of Williams’ text keeps readers’ interest in this fascinating subject piqued, and she does a fine job explaining the science in lay terms. The artwork uses a palette of deep greens and browns to illustrate how these changes would alter the world.

Uniquely thought-provoking and important. (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14320-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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