It may not be epic, but this is certainly one launch that fails to get off the ground.



From the Epic Fails series , Vol. 1

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try.

In a series launch bent on showing how failure may be instructive, Thompson and Slader turn the story of the Wright Brothers into an amusing, bite-sized history lesson. History’s early flight fiascos and successes are recounted, culminating in Orville and Wilbur Wright’s. Over the years they would experiment, fail, learn from their mistakes, tinker, fail, and tenaciously pursue their dreams until they succeeded. Alas, troubles dog this well-intentioned series opener. An early statement that “It would seem that before man would learn to fly, he’d have to learn how to fall” prefaces a book that ignores the contributions (and failures) of such early women aeronauts as Sophie Blanchard. In a section on ballooning, a statement that the novel Around the World in Eighty Days was “about circling the globe in a hot air balloon” is incorrect (no ballooning occurs in that book). Attempts to appeal to child readers today yield awkward sentences that describe the brothers as “steampunk hipsters at Comic-Con” wrestling with the controls of the plane “like trying to play a multiplayer computer game with a really bad Internet connection.” Artist Foley renders the text accessible with his lively pen-and-ink drawings, but they are too little, too late.

It may not be epic, but this is certainly one launch that fails to get off the ground. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15055-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)



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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet