A fine addition to “sense of wonder” collections.




A ruby-throated hummingbird flies 1,500 miles, from the northeastern United States across the Gulf of Mexico.

Naming his exemplar protagonist Tiny Bird, Burleigh chronicles its pre-migration feeding, its travels southward to the Florida shore, its perilous journey across the Caribbean (a convenient fishing boat provides a resting spot), and its arrival in its tropical winter home. The simple narrative is set in short, poetic lines. There’s suspense: “Over the first pounding waves, / it begins its nonstop flight of more than twenty hours. / Can Tiny Bird make it? Many hummingbirds never do.” The traveler just misses being eaten, first by a hawk and then by a large fish, and weathers a storm. And there’s expressive language, with alliteration, occasional rhyme, and plentiful imagery. After the successful trip, “Tiny Bird rests and feeds, / flickering from flower to flower / like an emerald spark flashing in the bright sun.” While the writer ascribes no gender to his character, Minor’s colorful paintings show a male. In images that feature huge flowers or the vastness of the ocean, the bird is appropriately small, but he’s magnified, reflecting his enormous courage, as he flies through the storm. Information about hummingbird size, flight, and feeding habits is sprinkled throughout the narrative and further developed in a final page of “fun facts”; there’s a map and additional facts on the endpapers.

A fine addition to “sense of wonder” collections. (tips to help hummingbirds, resources) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62779-369-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.


From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.


From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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