Lighthearted but cogent fare for young naturalists and foragers.

Running away not being an option, plants have developed an arsenal of defenses against animal attacks.

Pairing notes in prose to rhymed couplets, Amstutz tallies nearly a dozen ways that plants deliver comeuppances to would-be munchers. Most involve poisons or irritants, but strategies also include camouflage (stone plants), coating leaves with sand (sand verbena), or even providing homes for aggressive ants (the whistling thorn acacia). Willows can make their leaves unpalatable to tent caterpillars; cotton attacked by insect pests sends a chemical invitation to wasps; and woe betides a bug that lands among sticky geraniums, which “make oodles of thick, sticky glue. / Intruders soon find themselves trapped in the goo.” Along with reasonably recognizable plant specimens, Evans depicts otherwise accurately drawn animals, from giraffes to grasshoppers, with comically dismayed expressions as they are stymied. Groups of human figures in painted scenes—of picnickers oblivious to marauding raccoons and a troop of hikers cowering away from nettles and poison ivy—are racially diverse. Select flora and fauna feature in a photo gallery at the end, which is followed by suggestions for STEAM extension activities. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Lighthearted but cogent fare for young naturalists and foragers. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58469-673-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

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 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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