A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

READ REVIEW

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy.

COUGAR FRENZY

From the Orca Echoes series

Through the investigations of young Cricket and her friends, readers learn how to distinguish evidence of a cougar from other animals—and are briefed on cougar conservation and monitoring.

When Cricket and her friend Shilo notice a foul smell coming from piled-up snow and branches under a bush, Cricket suspects that a cougar has hidden its dinner. Her father, Warden McKay, proves her right when he shows up at her school, giving an emergency presentation about cougars. A cougar has been seen in their village, which is located inside Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. After Cricket’s dad informs kids about some cougar facts, Principal Singh gives students a rare week off from school. It’s odd, then, that the warden’s children proceed to wander the village. However, McDowell’s books about Cricket typically favor facts about wildlife above all else, and, also typically, this one does not disappoint. It even clarifies one statistic as specifically Canadian. Overall, the dialogue is more natural than in Salamander Rescue (2016), if equally packed with information. The nine chapters and epilogue are accessible, entertaining, and empowering for young naturalists. The compelling plot twist: Anxious villagers are accusing cougars of a series of large-mammal crimes. Cricket, knowing that cougar relocation can be fatal, wants to ensure continued, occasional village visits by a family of tracked cougars. She devises a scheme to trap the real culprit. Illustrations are pleasant enough, depicting a largely white cast, though at least three characters have Asian surnames.

Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2064-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers.

SEVEN AND A HALF TONS OF STEEL

A reverent account of the creation of a seagoing 9/11 memorial fashioned by incorporating part of one of the fallen towers into the hull of a Navy ship.

Following a wordless, powerful sequence in which a seemingly ordinary jet flies peacefully through a cloudless sky and then directly into a tower, Nolan opens by noting that there is “something different, something special” about the seemingly ordinary USS New York. In the tragedy’s aftermath, she explains, a steel beam was pulled from the wreckage and sent to a foundry in Louisiana. There, workers melted it down, recast and shaped it, and sent it to New Orleans, where, notwithstanding the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, it was incorporated into the bow of a new ship of war. Gonzalez echoes the author’s somber, serious tone with dark scenes of ground zero, workers with shadowed faces, and views of the ship from low angles to accentuate its monumental bulk. Though Nolan goes light on names and dates, she adds a significant bit of background to the overall story of 9/11 and its enduring effects. Backmatter includes a cutaway diagram and some additional facts.

A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-912-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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