Just a footnote—but worth treasuring for its very unlikeliness.

An expanded version of one of the several solutions to the Mad Hatter’s riddle about how a raven is like a writing desk: Poe and Dickens wrote on both.

It’s a neat literary anecdote, though, as more than one raven was involved, Singer has to fudge it a bit. It seems that Charles Dickens kept a succession of pesky ravens as pets, all named Grip. The first he turned into a character in Barnaby Rudge and then had stuffed and mounted when it died. The second was incorporated into a painting of the author’s children that he took with him on an American tour—where Poe saw it in Philadelphia and, being a struggling writer who, as the narrative puts it, “needed a hit,” penned a certain renowned poem. The rest is history. Adding the occasional inscribed Nevermore to tempt listeners to chime in, Fotheringham outfits the two gently caricatured White men and several racially diverse gaggles of laughing children in period clothing and sends multiple ravens, all bearing the same cocky smile, fluttering through the illustrations. Along with added-value closing notes on the ravens of the Tower of London (many named Gripp) and the corvid clan in general, this genial account closes the circle by following Grip I down the years to its current, permanent home…in Philadelphia. It seems only right. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just a footnote—but worth treasuring for its very unlikeliness. (bibliography, web sites) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32472-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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


Choruses of delighted “Eeewww”s guaranteed, as well as exposure to such important scientific terms as “mustelid” and...

Fertile fodder for fans of faux fearful freakouts.

The latest in a largely interchangeable series with nearly identical titles (100 Deadliest Things on the Planet, 2012; 100 Most Awesome Things on the Planet, 2011; etc.), this gallery of creepy creatures offers unapologetically sensationalized content. Small portrait photos, five per spread, are matched to names, size ranges, two pithy descriptive notes and “scariness ratings” on a scale of one to five shark teeth. Along with, no surprise, 10 types of shark, the entries include a variety of biting insects and parasitic worms, poison frogs, snakes, carnivorous mammals on land and in the sea, deadly birds (a cassowary “[k]icks hard enough to tear an animal open or rip through a car door”), poisonous jellyfish and killer spiders. No need to fear, writes the author, “most” of these animals will leave you alone if not bothered, and “most” of their bites or stings have medical treatments. Browsers seeking self-inflicted terror or disgust will find in the small but rousing pictures a wide range of open maws and jagged teeth—but (with rare exceptions like the guinea worm being pulled from a sore) nothing seriously gruesome or disturbing.

Choruses of delighted “Eeewww”s guaranteed, as well as exposure to such important scientific terms as “mustelid” and “parasite.” (“Top 100” countdown, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-56342-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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