Informative, varied, entertaining, eye-catching—there’s not much more you could ask of this unaffected piece of work.

READ REVIEW

DOWN TO EARTH

HOW KIDS HELP FEED THE WORLD

From the Orca Footprints series

A global survey of small-scale food production, with kids pitching in with the everyday chores.

Complemented by a large and varied array of photographs—great panoramic landscape shots, intimate foodstuff portraits, plus a generous array of genders, races, nationalities, and ages—Tate’s survey takes readers on a world tour of farming, particularly, though not exclusively, that undertaken by kids: “we’ll explore some of the many ways children help collect seeds, weed gardens, milk goats, herd ducks and more as they grow, harvest, prepare, and distribute food.” The writing is good-spirited, not preachy or condescending, so the swallowing of information does not feel like gagging. And there is enough practical material that nonfarm kids will be able to find fascinating: how come organic food costs more? How do you decipher a food label at the most elementary level? What is a seed bank? What is the importance of diversity and rare breeds? What is waste, and how did animals in the preindustrial days provide for us so much more than they do now ? Take the pig: skin made gloves and footballs, bones made buttons, bristles made hairbrushes, teeth were made into jewelry, fat and lard were made into soap, and all the pig got eaten, tail to snout.

Informative, varied, entertaining, eye-catching—there’s not much more you could ask of this unaffected piece of work. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1412-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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