GORILLAS

“The more you find out about gorillas, the more interesting and less fearsome they become” is this prolific author’s theme; he makes his case by matching appealing, shot-in-the-wild photographs to a fluently informative report on the gorilla’s physical make-up and typical behavior. They are not so different from us, he contends, pointing to their DNA, fingerprints, and other features, describing their daily routines in the wild, how young are raised, what gorilla sounds and gestures signify, how they respond to perceived threats, and so on. His approach is wonderfully accessible, giving his young readers connections they can recognize: “Fully grown males may weigh more than four hundred pounds, about the weight of ten second-grade children.” While it’s an idyllic existence—“A gorilla belch means that it is feeding contentedly or sleeping nicely. One gorilla belches, and soon all the gorillas are belching in a slow, relaxing chorus”—it is also threatened, he notes at the end. Building his case carefully and thoughtfully, Simon (They Walk the Earth, p. 485, etc.) leads the reader to understand how nearly human these gentle creatures are, thereby increasing the sense of obligation to save them by saving their forests. The photographs, most of which are closeups, capture how expressive gorilla faces can be. Who could resist their charm? Like Ted and Betsy Lewin’s Gorilla Walk (1999), a sure way to turn gorilla-phobes into gorilla-philes. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-023035-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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