WEIRD BUT TRUE!

WORLD 2024

From the Weird But True! series

The bee’s knees for browsers, if not much different from last year’s version.

Heaping helpings of facts and photos on natural and manufactured oddities, with a sprinkling of new material scattered over previously published fare.

Continuing to cater to short attention spans, this lightly massaged version of the previous edition offers the same crowded mix of bright color photos and equally flashy backgrounds and graphics—tailor-made for random dipping and compulsive sharing. There is an index that few, if any, readers will ever consult, and there are no source notes, aside from the obligatory photo acknowledgments. But if the blocks of commentary accompanying the pictures go for hokey wordplay (it “pays to be cassowary-wary!”) and cranking up the pitch, a few factual bits are smoothly folded in, and each chapter does feature a rudimentary pop quiz. Following an opening chapter with select upcoming weird holidays and events (2024 will have two solar eclipses, fewer than usual), the contents are grouped by continent, with a final chapter on seas and space. The book sweeps through a sprawling menu of topics: records such as the world’s longest hot dog and largest hamburger, glimpses of the annual bog snorkeling championships and other less well-known competitions, and wildlife from the ever-popular tongue-eating louse to a millipede named after Taylor Swift. Readers are invited to marvel at a porcine painter named (inevitably) “Pigcasso,” any number of oddly shaped buildings, and the “gigantic butt-shaped nut!” of the coco de mer palm.

The bee’s knees for browsers, if not much different from last year’s version. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781426374531

Page Count: 304

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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