An otherwise fine entry in the long-running Scientists in the Field Series.




New Caledonian crows demonstrate that they both use and produce tools.

In their second joint venture, author Turner and photographer Comins (The Frog Scientist, 2009) journey to New Caledonia to see these feathered “geniuses” in action. There, Dr. Gavin R. Hunt takes them into the forest for field observations and into aviaries and testing areas where captive crows demonstrate their capabilities with unfamiliar materials. Only five animal species are known to make multiple kinds of tools; only crows and humans make hooked tools. Do crows, like humans, improve tool technology and pass those improvements on to others? Well-reproduced photographs, sketches by researcher/illustrator de Filippo, and a clearly organized, engaging text introduce readers to specific crows like young Little Feather, who’s learning tool use from a parent. Turner and Comins also accompany an islander who’s returning some captives to the wild. There’s description, too, of the crows’ South Pacific island world and research done with this species in labs. The author’s affinity for the clever birds shines through, but she is less respectful to her human host. Readers only learn main character “Gavin’s” last name in the backmatter; his official position at the University of Auckland is never mentioned. This is discourteous and, for readers interested in the scientists as well as the science, a sad omission.

An otherwise fine entry in the long-running Scientists in the Field Series. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-41619-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.



A compendium of all things oceanic, from surface to depths, covering biology, geology, coasts, climatic phenomena, and human use and abuse.

Considering the size of the general topic, the coverage isn’t as shallow as it might be. Hundreds of crisply professional nature photos and big, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams anchor waves of densely packed but often breezy commentary (“Many parrotfish species also make their own sleeping bags at night—out of mucus!”) that Wilsdon pours in beneath such headers as “It’s a Shore Thing” and “Belize It or Not!” Overviews of each ocean, of plate tectonics, the action and effects of ocean currents, worldwide climate change, and physical features from islands to abyssal plains sail by in succession, but marine biology takes pride of place with page after page of photogenic sea life from tiny krill on up to whales and polar bears. The author profiles a marine ecologist and interviews an oceanographer to cap chapters on modern research, exploration, and industries, then closes with generous lists of sites to visit physically or virtually.

A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2550-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead.



Letts adapts her bestselling 2016 work of the same title for young readers.

As World War II sweeps across Europe, the fates of several master horsemen become entwined. In Poland, Andrzej Kristalovich, head of the national stud farm, sees his life’s work disappear when Russian soldiers capture his horses. Nazi Germans, invading next, restore some of the animals in order to breed them for the Third Reich. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Olympic medalist Alois Podhajsky is desperately trying to care for the Lipizzan stallions at the famed Spanish Riding School even as the invading Germans capture the Lipizzan stud farms and move most of the horses to Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, at an American Army base in Kansas, Maj. Hank Reed is overseeing the cavalry’s transition from horses, no longer useful in warfare, to mechanized vehicles. These threads come together at the end of the war when Reed orchestrates a complex rescue of both sets of horses. This is not a particularly successful adaptation. It’s shorter than the original, but both the storyline and timeline are fragmented, making it difficult for the putative audience of 8- to 12-year-olds to follow, and extraneous details fail to advance the main narrative. Aside from a map and archival images (both not seen), there is no timeline or other visual aid to help organize the narrative. Characters are all white.

If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead. (author’s note, characters, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64474-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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