From the Nature's Top Secrets series

A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike.

A witty look at the less-beautiful characteristics of butterflies.

As this informational book opens, a big-eyed monarch-butterfly narrator flits and flutters with its beautiful friends. Then, in metafictive fashion, it warns readers that if they want to continue believing that pretty is the essence of butterflies, “DON’T TURN THE PAGE.” Of course, curious readers will keep going! The narrator reveals the truth: “Some butterflies are gross.” Readers peer through the narrator’s binoculars as it describes in pithy text such shocking sights as butterflies slurping up dead-animal juices and offers additional undesirable adjectives, like “drab” butterflies that resemble dull leaves, an adaptation that confuses hungry birds. Comical illustrations that feature patterns and earth tones highlight the humor. But wait, there’s more, as the narrator warns once again: “OK, prepare to get weirded out.” It starts up an old-fashioned movie projector, and as it uses such monstrous terms as shape-shifters and carnivorous, it explains and shows scenes of metamorphosis, caterpillars’ diets, and more. Finally, the narrator takes readers into a top-secret lab and reveals images of butterflies tasting with their feet, eating poop, and drinking tears—and some that “have butts that look like heads.” A concluding chart depicts thumbnails of featured butterflies, further related facts, and their geographic range. All in all, it’s a fun addition—or alternative—to traditional insect study. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6592-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Close Quickview