Altogether a fresh and masterful contribution to the genres of both haiku and horse.

READ REVIEW

THE HORSE'S HAIKU

A collection of haiku with a horse theme is paired with watercolors in this picture book.

The evocative haiku are loosely organized into three groups: “In the Field,” “At the Barn,” and “In Saddle,” with an afterword by author Rosen that explains his creative intent and inspiration in drawing parallels between the horse and the haiku. Each of Rosen’s poems, in proper haiku tradition, captures a momentary impression, and the collection adds up not so much to a storyline as an evocation of place and emotion. Readers who are familiar with horses will feel the full impact, such as the horse’s steaming back when the saddle is removed, although many other haiku are just as effective for readers who must use imagination only. Illustrator Fellows’ richly rendered watercolors are the perfect match, since they too exhibit the expertise and close observation inherent in the haiku. They are done in an earthy palette of greens, blues, browns, and yellows with the occasional dab of bright blue or red, and Fellows’ use of the white paper for highlight and delineation is as masterful as it is deceptively simple. Pencil lines are unabashedly left in, as are drawn-in details that are left without color, reinforcing the illustrations’ fresh, spontaneous feel.

Altogether a fresh and masterful contribution to the genres of both haiku and horse. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8916-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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