A treasure for readers of any age who delight in the natural world.

SONG OF THE WILD

A FIRST BOOK OF ANIMALS

Paintings, poetry, and lyrical prose celebrate animals of all sorts.

From blue whales to blue morpho butterflies, camels to coral, sea turtles to snails, Davies finds something young readers will find appealing and memorable about all kinds of animals. This striking, oversized album, first published in England, groups over 50 poems and snatches of carefully crafted prose into sections corresponding to topics: sizes; colors and shapes; homes; babies; and animals in action. The pleasing poetry makes liberal use of imagery, alliteration, and slant rhymes. The writer imagines monarch butterflies at their winter home: “clothing, covering, the trees / in a thick coat of living flame / that shimmers as a shiver passes / from wing to wing to wing.” This lyrical language is matched by sumptuous illustrations beautifully reproduced on glossy, oversized pages. Most poems are set on one side of double-page spreads, allowing the paintings ample, deserved room. Each animal is portrayed against a background that suggests something about its usual habitat. Horácek uses a variety of materials including wax crayon, acrylic and watercolor paints, and cutouts. The vibrant color and texture may remind some of the work of Brian Wildsmith. Each section ends with a spread of fast facts: characteristics of different animal groups; spots and stripes; parasites; eggs; and animals using tools.

A treasure for readers of any age who delight in the natural world. (Informational picture book/ poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9160-8

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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