Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy.

READ REVIEW

THE WISDOM OF TREES

HOW TREES WORK TOGETHER TO FORM A NATURAL KINGDOM

In poetry, prose, and art, examples from around the world teach both basic botany and current, even cutting-edge, research about trees.

Each double-page spread includes detailed watercolor art, a short, titled poem, and prose paragraphs that extend each poem’s meaning. As the text explains: “The poems in this book reveal what trees might say if they did use words.” The poems are written in an accessible free verse with a pleasing rhythm and near rhymes, and they include sly homage to both Shakespearean verse and more modern memes. Equally accessible prose introduces readers to the humorously—but appropriately—designated Wood Wide Web, which allows trees long-distance, intra-tree communication through mycorrhizal fungi at their roots. That knowledge, and the tale of savvy, giraffe-battling acacias, will be familiar to readers of Peter Wohlleben’s Can You Hear the Trees Talking? (2019). This text goes further by stressing cooperation rather than competition among different tree species and, indeed, by declaring that trees are the entire planet’s “best defense against climate change.” There are excellent explanations of standard topics such as photosynthesis along with revelations about how many insect species were found on one tree in Costa Rica, why most of Malaysia’s tualang trees are protected (home to Asian rock bees, a type of honeybee), and the urgent necessity of reforestation. Final pages offer further information, organized by the poem titles. With the exception of some awkwardly depicted animals, the illustrations complement the text’s quality of reverence. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.9% of actual size.)

Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy. (glossary, sources, websites) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23707-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t...

HURRICANE HARVEY

DISASTER IN TEXAS AND BEYOND

The devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey is explained, from the storm’s origin to its ongoing aftermath, in this photo-heavy book.

In retelling the story of how a storm got so big it caused 82 deaths and billions of dollars in damage along the Texas coast, Minneapolis-based author Felix details the science of hurricanes for those unfamiliar and unpacks why this and a series of other hurricanes made for one of the most damaging weather years on record. Although it’s packed with info-boxes, a glossary, tips for safety during a hurricane and helping survivors afterward, a snapshot of five other historic hurricanes, and well-curated photos, it misses an opportunity to convey some of the emotion and pain victims endured and continue to feel. Instead, much of the text feels like a summation of news reports, an efficient attempt to answer the whys of Hurricane Harvey, with only a few direct quotations. Readers learn about Virgil Smith, a Dickinson, Texas, teen who rescued others from floodwaters with an air mattress, but the information is secondhand. The book does answer, clearly and concisely, questions a kid might have about a hurricane, such as what happens to animals at the zoo in such an emergency and how a tropical storm forms in the first place. A portion of the book’s proceeds are to be donated to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The photos effectively convey the scope of Harvey’s impact, but while journalistically sound, this informative book doesn’t capture the fear and shock those who lived through the hurricane must have felt. (Nonfiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2888-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

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