An uneven but wide-angled look at our closest neighbors…welcome and otherwise.



An ecologist offers glimpses of scientists at work exploring the “urban jungle.”

Guy kicks off her set of episodic profiles with a description of her own studies of brown bats in Toronto’s High Park. She then introduces fellow researchers tracking city-dwelling creatures, from rats and native bees to bears and coyotes, mapping microclimates in different city neighborhoods, or organizing censuses—in locales ranging from Vancouver to South Africa. Though it’s a swiftly moving survey, the discourse digs down deep enough to suggest that, counterintuitively, some species seem to do better in urban than natural environments, to call attention to potential ecological effects of redlining and gentrification, and to describe an encounter between a Black bird counter and a hostile White woman in North Carolina as prelude to a discussion of racial bias. Better yet, nearly all of the scientists here are women and at least three, including the author, people of color. For both specific portraits and certain scenes like a gallery of urban animal butts readers are challenged to identify, photographs would have done better service, but Li’s substantial mix of naturalistic animal silhouettes and silk-screen–style scenes of scientists engaged in outdoorsy tasks does add some visual detail as well as bright notes of color. The closing resource list is substantial, though light on material for younger audiences.

An uneven but wide-angled look at our closest neighbors…welcome and otherwise. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77321-538-9

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.



An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Serviceable, if a bit dry.


From the Explorer series

An overview of the dino clan, featuring a populous fold-out timeline of the Mesozoic Era.

The book opens with a perfunctory setup in which Eric Eagle, intrepid librarian, is sent back in time to “file a report on the entire history of the dinosaurs.” Following this, a set of sober-sided disquisitions survey the history of dino-discovery, then dinosaur hip bones, lives, diversity of forms, adaptations, extinction, and modern successors. Forshaw’s painted group and individual portraits are all likewise staid (some predators do at least have bloodless bits of prey hanging from their mouths), but there are a lot of dinosaurs on view, systematically identified and dated. There is also a portrait gallery of paleontologists, all (like “Agent Eagle”) white but two of whom are living women. The accordion-folded timeline, which is one-sided and perforated for easy removal, begins with the Triassic Period, ends in a truncated view of the Cenozoic (with a chicken), and is thick with both colorfully patterned creatures and short, descriptive annotations for each. Three sets of easy quizzes allow young fans to see how much of the “reports” they have retained. Bugs!, also by the same authorial team but with illustrations by William Exley, opens with a virtually identical setup and proceeds to cover the “bug” world in similar fashion.

Serviceable, if a bit dry. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-995577-0-53

Page Count: 46

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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