A spectacular collection—“And,” the editor notes with remarkable understatement, “the pictures are pretty nice too!”...



Gathered by the United States children's poet laureate, 200 (mostly) lighthearted poems from the likes of Basho and Ben Franklin, Leadbelly, Jack Prelutsky and Joyce Sidman share space with eye-popping animal photographs.

A well-stirred mix of old and recent limericks, haiku, short lyrics, shaped poems and free verse, the poetry ranges far and wide. There are rib ticklers like Gelett Burgess’ “Purple Cow” and Laura E. Richards’ “Eletelephony” (the latter’s line “Howe’er it was, he got his trunk / Entangled in the telephunk” dated in these days of cellphones but still hilarious to read, especially aloud). Others are more serious, such as Tracie Vaughn Zimmer’s graceful tribute to an indoor centipede—“a ballet of legs / gliding / skating / skimming / across the stage of white porcelain”—and David McCord’s elegiac “Cocoon.” All are placed on or next to page after page of riveting wildlife portraits (with discreet identifying labels), from a ground-level view of a towering elephant to a rare shot of a butterfly perched atop a turtle. Other standouts include a dramatic spray of white egret plumage against a black background and a precipitous bug’s-eye look down a bullfrog’s throat. Lewis adds advice for budding animal poets to the excellent bibliography and multiple indexes at the end.

A spectacular collection—“And,” the editor notes with remarkable understatement, “the pictures are pretty nice too!” (Poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1009-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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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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Pretty but insubstantial.


Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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