No substitute for getting down and dirty in the greenery but a good and visually memorable start.

BUGS IN THE BACKYARD

A gallery that will bring young naturalists close—very close—to common creepy-crawlies.

“Bugs” in this case includes earthworms, snails, and water bears, along with well over three dozen arthropods sharing worldwide distribution, from cat fleas and woodlice to grasshoppers, blowflies, and spiders. Huge, high-resolution stock photos or micro photos of representative specimens are set against black or blurred-out backgrounds to bring colors and finer details of anatomy into spectacular high relief. Around these, smaller photos share space with digestible chunks of introductory comment, distinctive features, definitions of scientific terms, and bulleted facts. Though living up to its titular promise that at least some species of all the chosen invertebrates are likely to be near at hand in any reader’s habitat, this is not a field guide. Nor, aside from an advisory against collecting or even touching live insects, does the author offer guidelines for outdoor expeditions, instructions for hands-on projects, or resources for further study. Along with realizing that movie aliens and monsters have nothing over what nature has on display, though, even casual browsers will absorb some basic information about the wildlife that, would they but look a little closer, wriggles and scampers all around.

No substitute for getting down and dirty in the greenery but a good and visually memorable start. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77085-697-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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