Both casual browsers and budding zoologists will light up.

NATURE AT NIGHT

A gallery of luminous natural beauties (not necessarily nocturnal), from puffins to polar lights.

Leading off with a lenticular 3-D cover image of a hawksbill sea turtle glimmering red and green, this (stock) photo gallery spans land, sea, and sky to present 23 lambent wonders—all animals except for the foxfire mushroom and the northern and southern auroras—enhanced by glow-in-the-dark highlights. Even without that gimmick the figures seem luminous against the deep, black backgrounds. Nor is the glow always external; chameleons shine from their very bones; fimbriated moray eels gleam in part from internal organs; and the mushrooms, an orange octopus, and several others in the lineup at least look brightly lit from within. Aside from occasional bobbles, such as a claim that glowworms luminesce as larvae opposite a photo of flashing adults and contradictory observations that polka-dot tree frogs shine either by natural or only in ultraviolet light, Regan’s lucid, specific remarks about how each organism makes and uses its lights are spot-on. Anita Sitarski’s Cold Light (2007) offers less-dazzling photography but makes a natural follow-up since it illuminates a wider range of examples (including light-producing rocks and minerals) in greater detail.

Both casual browsers and budding zoologists will light up. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-2281-0255-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity.

HOOT AND HOWL ACROSS THE DESERT

LIFE IN THE WORLD'S DRIEST DESERTS

Creatively stylized images of flora and fauna native to some 15 deserts around the world.

Interspersing her examination with closer looks at camels and at sand dunes, the bird communities associated with acacia trees, and like intriguing sidelights, Tzomaka poses groups of select residents from all three types of desert (hot, cold, and coastal) against sere backdrops, with pithily informative comments on characteristic behaviors and survival strategies. But significant bits of her presentation are only semilegible, with black type placed on deep blue or purple backgrounds. And rarely (if ever) have desert animals looked so…floral. Along with opting for a palette of bright pinks, greens, and purples rather than natural hues for her flat, screen-print–style figures, Tzomaka decorates them with contrasting whirls of petals and twining flourishes, stars, scallops, pinwheels, and geometric lines or tessellations. Striking though these fancies are, artistic license has led her into some serious overgeneralizations, as she claims to be drawing on regional folk motifs for inspiration—justifying the ornate ruffs and borders on creatures of the Kalahari with a vague note that “African tribes make accessories and jewelry…decorated with repeated lines, circles and dots,” for instance, and identifying a Northwest Coastal pattern on an arctic fox as “Inuit.” Readers may find less shifty footing in more conventional outings like Jim Arnosky’s Watching Desert Wildlife (1998).

A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity. (map, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65198-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Peeks under lots of rocks and logs but barely scratches the surface.

UNDER YOUR FEET

A view of the “important jobs” that soil and all the things that live in it have.

Considering the uncountable plants, animals, fungi, and microbes that live there, soil is a busy place—as the page design goes overboard in reflecting, with floating labels, teeming dollops of fact in diverse typefaces, snippets of photographs, and larger images done in a printlike style shoveled together in high-density arrays of angled or undulating lines on every spread. After opening with an overview of soil’s roles, particularly in regulating climate, the discourse plows through its organic and inorganic elements, how it varies in different environments, the living things that populate it, and, in broader context, how the dusty surfaces of the moon and Mars compare. Earthworms are such major players that they get two spreads of their own, six mentions of their “poop,” and instructions for setting up a catch-and-release “worm hotel.” Because the visuals are more about flash than furthering understanding, and the authors too seem bent on cramming in the dazzle (“Astronauts tried tasting moon dust!”), readers with a yen to dig deep may just scuff through this before going on to more fertile surveys like Marc ter Horst’s Hey There, Earth Dweller, illustrated by Wendy Panders and translated by Laura Watkinson (2019), or Tom Jackson’s Earth Sciences (2019).

Peeks under lots of rocks and logs but barely scratches the surface. (projects, glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4654-9095-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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