Despite its impressive amount of information, this ultimately comes across as a sanitized list of facts about each artist...

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ARTISTS AND THEIR PETS

TRUE STORIES OF FAMOUS ARTISTS AND THEIR ANIMAL FRIENDS

Illustrated profiles of 20 famous artists and the pets they owned.

This intriguing concept—telling stories of artists and their pets—unfortunately doesn’t get off the ground. Each artist’s life is summarized with a chapter of uncontroversial facts: when and where born (late 19th and 20th centuries predominate), where educated, exhibitions, movements founded, fame, and what pets they owned. Even Andy Warhol’s life comes across as pretty ordinary. Of the 20, three are women—Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Suzanne Valadon—and the majority, 16, are white. One is black (Romare Bearden), one is Mexican (Kahlo), and two are Asian (Ai WeiWei and Tsuguharu Foujita). Although David Hockney, openly gay, is profiled, his sexual orientation is not mentioned. What the book does well is to impart to readers the value of persistence (many artists had to overcome early rejection), and it presents a clear overview of the many named art movements, with a helpful glossary included. Lemay’s illustrations are simple spots of the artists and their pets scattered throughout, and she also offers her interpretation of some of the recognizable paintings of each artist “to familiarize the reader with certain iconic works.”

Despite its impressive amount of information, this ultimately comes across as a sanitized list of facts about each artist and the names and types of pets they owned. (glossary, sources, art citations, index) (Collective biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-9460-6401-1

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Duo Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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