A fun gift or reference book for the newer horse enthusiast.

Horse facts, basic and obscure, fill this oversized illustrated book.

Following Why Do Cats Meow? and Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? (both 2020), this latest volume in a series on animals turns to horses of all kinds. Each spread focuses on one question, such as “How long have there been horses?”; “Why do horses wear shoes?”; and “Can a horse speak with its ears?” Short paragraphs responding with answers are spaced throughout each spread, around painted illustrations of horses against white backgrounds, in action scenes, or in portrait frames. Readers will learn the names of horses’ colors, the names of older and younger members of a herd, the relationships between humans and horses, the jobs horses do, which breeds are strongest, which are most easily trained, and, of course, why horses can’t burp, among other things. While the title implies that the book will be filled with quirky, unusual facts, most of the information is fairly basic—enlightening for beginner horse enthusiasts but less so for those who have already been delving into equine affairs. The writing style is plain, and bolded headings make browsing easy. The delicate watercolor illustrations are realistic enough to be informative but also playful in places, depicting horses with eyebrows to exaggerate their emotions in one spread, for instance. A number of famous horses from history are featured as well. Humans are pictured in a variety of skin tones.

A fun gift or reference book for the newer horse enthusiast. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65230-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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