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From the Nature All Around series

Excellent for fledgling naturalists.

“In this book, you’ll find out…about birds…from those you see every day to strange birds, and you’ll discover how you can become a bird-watcher.”

Following Plants (2020), Bugs, and Trees (both 2019), Hickman and Gavin have produced another worthy addition to children’s nature shelves, this one focusing on birds that can be observed in Canada and the United States. The text is accessible and graceful. Each short chapter, illustrated with Gavin’s signature, appealing watercolors, has just enough information to whet the appetite for more. Readers are unlikely to forget, for example, that baby herring gulls tap on that red spot on a parent’s beak to release the chick’s food. As in other books in the series, chapters about each season provide an organic way to introduce or flesh out such basic concepts as migration, pollination, and camouflage. Less-common concepts are also clearly explained, as in “determinate” versus “indeterminate layers.” (Yes, some birds keep replacing damaged eggs until they reach a set number.) Occasional sidebars entitled “Strange Birds” mention highly unusual behaviors of specific varieties, including the northern shrike’s impalement of edible victims on thorns to compensate for its tiny, weak feet. Other than that possibly shudder-inducing fact, the text spends most of its time on birds that eat fish, insects, and seeds. Following a formula that works, other pages devote themselves to human threats and remedies, hints for elementary bird-watching, and a craft project. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Excellent for fledgling naturalists. (contents, glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77138-818-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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