JOHN MUIR AND STICKEEN

AN ICY ADVENTURE WITH A NO-GOOD DOG

A cover illustration draws the reader into the historical setting in the Alaskan wilderness of 1880: three men row desperately in an open boat as a dog clings precariously to the prow. That dog is Stickeen, who was part of an expedition headed by John Muir to map Alaska’s glaciers. He initially resented the dog’s inclusion in the group, but after the harrowing experience of being lost together in a storm, Muir developed great respect and affection for him. This story is based on Muir’s own journals from his trip and his other writings and sketches, and the volume’s format includes journal pages written in first person. An explanatory note indicates that these journal entries are “not meant to be reproductions of Muir’s journals,” leaving the reader unclear as to the parameters of fact and fiction. Nonetheless, the story has an engaging main character and striking illustrations that capture the majesty of Alaska’s wilderness. An afterword gives more information on Muir and his legacy, and sepia-toned endpapers provide a map of Alaska and sketches of a Tlingit dancer and totem poles. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-55971-903-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthWord

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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