Easily digestible, if not particularly nutritious.

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DEADLY!

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MOST DANGEROUS CREATURES ON EARTH

Davies (Talk, Talk, Squawk!, 2011) rips viciously into another popular topic with this gallery of animals “decked out for killing”—from tiny venomous spiders to big cats for whom humans are just slow-moving “meals-on-legs.”

Dishing up appetizing facts and observations (“The pack may start to eat even before their victim is actually dead”), the author opens big with “Killer Cats,” feral canines, sharks and other carnivorous macro-creatures. Then she seats a guest list of such smaller fry as owls, snakes, “[t]eeny and [t]oxic” box jellyfish and spiders around Nature’s table, leaving room for latecomers with defense mechanisms like noxious sprays (bombardier beetle) or poison skin (puffer fish). Following delicious cautionary notes about smart and stupid human behavior around wild animals (and an off-flavored remark about the dangers of working in “poor tropical countries”), she rounds out the banquet with assorted amuse-bouches relating to the importance of predators to ecosystems and the potential uses of venoms in medical research. Layton garnishes his doodled cartoons with can’t-end-well dialogue (“here snakey, snakey…”) in balloons and occasional splashes of gore. Despite all this, all these creatures look like Twinkies next to the unmentioned microbial clan.

Easily digestible, if not particularly nutritious. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6231-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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