Appealing design adds further value to this dramatic demonstration of science in progress.

READ REVIEW

SNOWY OWL INVASION!

TRACKING AN UNUSUAL MIGRATION

In the winter of 2013-2014, when snowy owls from the Arctic began appearing far south of their usual winter homes, scientists took advantage of a rare research opportunity.

An unusually large irruption of snowy owls, seen in huge numbers in eastern Canada, New England, and the mid-Atlantic coast and as far south as Florida, spurred observers to develop new techniques to track and learn more about this Arctic species. One likely hypothesis for their sudden migration into unlikely areas is a population explosion caused by the unusually high lemming numbers the previous summer, which provided more food for hatchlings. Another points to strong southeasterly winds blowing them off course. Using leg bands and small GPS transmitters, scientists followed the movements of specific birds, discovering new facts about a bird not previously well-studied. Markle introduces the birds, the lemmings, and the science in lively, clear prose organized into chapters profusely illustrated with well-captioned photographs. With long experience in explaining the natural world to young readers, she deftly chooses information that will be of particular interest and provides the necessary background. Separate sections explain lemming population booms, differences between male and female owls, tundra, and owl feeding habits. A map shows the travels of several birds, including a “star reporter” named Baltimore.

Appealing design adds further value to this dramatic demonstration of science in progress. (author’s note, sources, glossary, resources, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3106-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

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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