A cogent, jauntily illustrated primer.


From the Nature All Around series

“Do you like to climb trees, sit under their shady branches on a hot summer’s day, eat apples and peaches, read books or watch birds?”

The conversational—but never condescending—text goes on to say that a “yes” to any of those questions shows that trees are already an important part of the reader’s life. It then goes on to mention a few more of the roles trees play in the United States and Canada, which are “two of the most forested countries in the world,” and to invite readers to learn more in the following pages. From the colorful, stylized cover art that shows various trees in different seasons through the simple—but not oversimplified—explanations of photosynthesis, pollination, and more to the pages that offer silhouettes of trees and leaves alongside tips for “Beginner Tree-Watching,” this book gently funnels readers into deeper understanding and appreciation. The layout offers a variety of formats, interspersing large-lettered headings and subheadings with well-leaded, oversized text and bright watercolors that are easy to interpret. The page titled “Trees in Summer” is probably the wordiest; it is made nonthreatening through the smooth introduction of vocabulary and the easily understood diagram of a peeled-away tree trunk. Childlike images of animals, especially bees, will further charm readers into becoming conservationists by the time the text exhorts them to do so.

A cogent, jauntily illustrated primer. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77138-804-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.


In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



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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