Illuminating insights for nocturnal naturalists.

IN THE DARK

THE SCIENCE OF WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

A quick survey picks out “wild and wonderful things that happen while you sleep.”

Betik opens in the bedroom, with explanations of circadian rhythms, REM and non-REM sleep cycles, and current theories about why we dream. She then ventures outside for looks at the eyes of cats, owls, and tarsiers; shows how certain creatures use tongues, whiskers, and other organs to compensate for the lack of light; and describes how plant metabolism changes when the sun goes down. Then it’s time to look up: at auroras and lunar phases; at planets and twinkling stars; at constellations, comets, and meteor showers. On every page, limited applications of color serve to illuminate the accurately rendered plants, animals, and astronomical phenomena in Holinaty’s squared-off panels and insets. His creatures are drawn in expressive poses, and human figures, though stylized, show a diverse range of skin hues. Readers may need to stretch to see the way plants allocate stored energy to get them through each night as “plant math,” but overall the author’s facts are straight as well as flashy enough to stick. Young STEM-winders may be more comfortable with this than Lena Sjöberg’s equally broad but more atmospheric Bright in the Night (2019). Specialized vocabulary is identified in boldface, spelled phonetically, and contextualized within the narrative, and a glossary in the backmatter pulls it all together for easy reference and review. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.5% of actual size.)

Illuminating insights for nocturnal naturalists. (sources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0109-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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 stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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