THE STORY OF SALT

The author of Cod’s Tale (2001) again demonstrates a dab hand at recasting his adult work for a younger audience. Here the topic is salt, “the only rock eaten by human beings,” and, as he engrossingly demonstrates, “the object of wars and revolutions” throughout recorded history and before. Between his opening disquisition on its chemical composition and a closing timeline, he explores salt’s sources and methods of extraction, its worldwide economic influences from prehistoric domestication of animals to Gandhi’s Salt March, its many uses as a preservative and industrial product, its culinary and even, as the source for words like “salary” and “salad,” its linguistic history. Along with lucid maps and diagrams, Schindler supplies detailed, sometimes fanciful scenes to go along, finishing with a view of young folk chowing down on orders of French fries as ghostly figures from history look on. Some of Kurlansky’s claims are exaggerated (the Erie and other canals were built to transport more than just salt, for instance), and there are no leads to further resources, but this salutary (in more ways than one) micro-history will have young readers lifting their shakers in tribute. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-23998-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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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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HURRICANES

Simon tackles his latest natural disaster in trademark but not very modern style. Information on hurricanes is clearly presented but poorly organized, and lacks any sense of drama or story. Aimed at the same age group as Dorothy Souza’s Hurricanes (1996) and Patricia Lauber’s Hurricanes: Earth’s Mightiest Storms, this falls short of both, often going into too much pedantic detail—the wind speeds of tropical depressions versus tropical storms—while failing to put needed perspective on some of the more eye-popping statistics. A hurricane can move more than a million cubic miles of atmosphere per second—but the naked numbers are essentially meaningless to students who think of millions in terms of ballplayers’ salaries and can’t imagine cubic miles at all. Photos of smashed houses and boats in front yards add excitement, but others—plain clouds?—detract; some are very grainy when blown up to the requisite full page. Formulaic and a numbing read-aloud. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-16291-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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