Engaging and information rich, this is wonderfully well woven.

SPI-KU

A CLUTTER OF SHORT VERSE ON EIGHT LEGS

A celebration of spiders in poetry and prose.

The team that produced Superlative Birds (2019) and other highly regarded science poetry collections has selected 35 from the more than 48,000 species to introduce the order Araneae—spiders. An opening poem concludes, “Let’s spy spiders!” and that’s what follows. An early spread shows and tells readers what distinguishes spiders from other arachnids. The text is organized topically, covering special spider abilities (like silk spinning), sensory mechanisms, and a wide variety of behaviors including locomotion, capturing prey, eating, courting, and child care. Some spider predators and a few species that live socially are also introduced. Each spread includes the topic, a few paragraphs of exposition, and one to three cheerfully illustrated poems describing particular species or behaviors. As always, Bulion uses both evocative vocabulary and a variety of poetic forms; these are chosen with care and defined in the backmatter. The peacock spider, which raises a colorful flap in a courtship dance, is celebrated with a “Hoe-Down,” recalling a traditional song: “Spider gal, won’t you signal you’re mine, / And we’ll dance by the light of the sun!” The golden silk orbweaver gets a haiku: “sun-shimmer silk / calls six-legged web guests— / dinner!” The impressive backmatter also includes identification, with scientific names, for every spider shown; instructions for spider hunting; and relative sizes gauged against a familiar No. 2 pencil.

Engaging and information rich, this is wonderfully well woven. (glossary, resources, acknowledgments) (Informational poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-68263-192-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more