Slightly out of tune but worth a listen nonetheless.


Fourteen animal species—insects, frogs, birds, and mammals—are celebrated for their particular musical abilities.

From gibbons who sing at dawn in Southeast Asian treetops to club-winged manakins who strum their feathers in the Andean mountain forests, from humpback whales in ocean depths to male St. Andrews Cross spiders crossing the webs of potential mates, animals of all sorts make musical sounds with various parts of their bodies. The author of this intriguing title is a Spanish composer, conductor, and musicologist whose understanding of music and musicianship opens a whole new window into the animal world. Presented as a series of imagined album notes, two successive double-page spreads introduce each animal in several short paragraphs (main text and callouts with additional interesting facts) about the musical performances, how they are made, and the different sounds the creature can make—its repertoire, as it were. “Production credits” include the concert title, venue, time, length, and purported composer; for the superb lyrebird, for instance, these are: “Rainforest Remix,” the Rainforest Disco Club, winter, 20 minutes, and DJ Lyrebird. Cartoonlike animal images printed on staff-paper backgrounds support the theme. The image of the imagined recording, shown, usually, as a 45rpm disc, will likely be meaningless to today’s readers, the translation has awkward moments, and the layout can be confusing, but readers who figure out the premise will find their ears opened to a new way of appreciating the natural world. Actual recordings of the animal songs will be available on the publisher’s website.

Slightly out of tune but worth a listen nonetheless. (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-924774-54-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: The Secret Mountain

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library.



From the Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries series

Scientists solve the mystery of a disappearing zebra herd.

A herd of plains zebra regularly vanishes from the Chobe River flood plains in Namibia and Botswana during the dry season, but until Robin Naidoo and other scientists fitted some of these animals with GPS trackers, no one knew where they went or why. Markle (The Great Shark Rescue, 2019, etc.) ably describes the species, its habitat in the Serengeti Plain, the phenomenon of migration, the science research, and its surprising results: a “record-holding zebra migration” to the grasses in Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park, which have extra nutrients for the mares and the foals they bear there. Her clear explanations are accompanied by well-chosen and informatively captioned photographs from a variety of sources. The lively design includes a striking zebra-coat background surrounding boxes with additional information and images. Maps help American readers locate this migration in southern Africa. One that includes the tracked migration routes of eight females demonstrates the astonishing directness of the 155-mile journey undertaken by seven (the meandering route taken by the eighth is unexplained). The author concludes with concerns about the possible effects of the changing climate and how conservation groups are planning to help the zebras so that they can continue to travel unimpeded and find water on their way.

A hopeful and helpful addition to any nature library. (author’s note, fast facts, glossary, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3837-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet