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From the Extreme Animals series

Excellent nonfiction that has the potential to make reluctant readers beginning bookworms. Not at all stinky! (Informational...

Striking pictures and intriguing facts are paired to entice beginning readers.

Page headings such as “Bird farts” and “Urrp!” and Jenkins’ accurate collage illustrations will draw even reluctant readers in. Information chosen for its “eww” effect will keep them reading despite the challenging vocabulary. Clean, white backgrounds, predictable layout, and varied typefaces help to organize the information. For example, how each critter qualifies as stinky is always discussed in the first paragraph, while callouts explain other behaviors or defense mechanisms. As in earlier series titles, a graphic on each spread indicates scale using either an adult human man or a human hand, while a world map shows habitat. The book concludes with a graphic that shows which critters use smell as a defense or to mark territory and which just live in stinky places. In the similarly formatted Speediest! (published simultaneously), that space is devoted to a chart showing each animal’s speed in miles and kilometers per hour. The aardvark’s 1/10 mph may seem unimpressive until readers see the explanation that this is how fast the animal can dig into earth. The quick movements of the mantis shrimp and the Panamanian termite are compared (quite favorably) to the blink of an eye. Backmatter in each volume includes a one-page glossary and a bibliography of more comprehensive nonfiction published between 1991 and 2015.

Excellent nonfiction that has the potential to make reluctant readers beginning bookworms. Not at all stinky! (Informational early reader. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-94478-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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