Readers are likely to view their world more carefully after learning of the important role decomposition plays in the cycle...

ROTTEN!

VULTURES, BEETLES, SLIME, AND NATURE’S OTHER DECOMPOSERS

Thankfully, most stuff rots.

This colorfully illustrated effort is aimed at a grade school audience that’s sure to be appreciative of an oft-stinky subject. Sanchez breaks the broad topic of decay down into a multitude of subtopics, covering dung beetles, animal scavengers, fungi, the decomposition of a log, earthworms, decomposition in the home, a comparison of natural rot vs. what doesn’t happen in a landfill, and finally, human decomposition—including mummies and preserving bodies in honey or alcohol. The information is doled out in small doses, usually just a paragraph at a time, and always on brightly colored pages (a couple of which are a bit challenging to read because of insufficient contrast between text and page color). Plenty of amusing, cartoony illustrations accompany the text and enhance its accessibility. Basic instructions are included for creating a compost pile, growing red worms, and making whole wheat bread. Although the illustrations and bright pages give the book a frivolous look, the information is generally accurate and in sufficient depth for the audience. The bibliography consists almost entirely of adult reading materials, however, and there are no suggestions for further reading for young inquiring minds.

Readers are likely to view their world more carefully after learning of the important role decomposition plays in the cycle of life. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-84165-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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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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