Another impressive outing by a popular pair.



Illustrations based on microscope images reveal a world of fantastic, sometimes frightening-looking creatures who share our world.

Jenkins’ familiar collage illustrations, set on stark backgrounds, seem ideally suited for display of the monsters in miniature described in this latest offering. From the alien-appearing thistle mantis to the roly-poly tardigrade, he gives readers multiple views of faces, feelers, teeth, and claws, all highly enlarged; the creature’s overall appearance; and its original size. There are worms that live inside us, mites that live on our outsides, insects that bite us, and intriguing creatures whose lives have nothing obvious to do with ours, including a marine scale worm that lives at a volcanic vent deep in the Pacific Ocean. Each is introduced with a lighthearted headline (“It’s a Sleepover!” for the house dust mites that live in pillows and bed linens). Most creatures get a single page; a few get a full double-page spread. The extent of enlargement is always noted; some actual sizes are too small to see. An illustrator’s note explains that the electron microscope images are black and white; the illustrator used color “to highlight the forms and details” of the microscopic creatures; but the dragon springtail’s blue body and orange spines are accurate. Alas, the book has no page numbers, but the thumbnail images accompanying further information on each critter in the backmatter correspond to the order in which the animals appear.

Another impressive outing by a popular pair. (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-30711-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.


In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same; beware, though: leprechauns who aren’t caught often take revenge by making messes.


Devious young scientists, engineers, and crafters will be solidly occupied with the 16 traps, three snacks, and 10 leprechaun tricks that are described here.

Each project comes with a level of difficulty, leprechaun appeal meter, list of materials, its STEAM connection (in a separate box listing topics touched upon and extensions), and numbered steps. The STEAM connections vary widely. Too many of the early projects that involve a stick propping up a trap lid have the same STEAM connection. Later projects, including a Leprechaun Run and a Marshmallow Catapult that talk about potential and kinetic energy and a Marshmallow Bridge that is heavy on the engineering piece, have more solid STEAM connections. “Did You Know” featurettes offer fascinating facts: Ireland has more sheep than people, and leprechauns used to wear red, not green. Readers will know to call a grown-up when they see the words “adult supervision” underlined in the directions, which also include “messy alerts.” The artwork is a mix of photographs, line drawings, and cartoons. Only two completed projects are photographed; the rest are digital illustrations. While this allows kids scope for their imaginations, some may need more help with the steps than the cartoons provide (particularly with the catapult). Photos show an array of diverse children working on the projects, although the disembodied hand holding scissors shown frequently is always white.

St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same; beware, though: leprechauns who aren’t caught often take revenge by making messes. (Nonfiction. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6388-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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