Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy.

THE WISDOM OF TREES

HOW TREES WORK TOGETHER TO FORM A NATURAL KINGDOM

In poetry, prose, and art, examples from around the world teach both basic botany and current, even cutting-edge, research about trees.

Each double-page spread includes detailed watercolor art, a short, titled poem, and prose paragraphs that extend each poem’s meaning. As the text explains: “The poems in this book reveal what trees might say if they did use words.” The poems are written in an accessible free verse with a pleasing rhythm and near rhymes, and they include sly homage to both Shakespearean verse and more modern memes. Equally accessible prose introduces readers to the humorously—but appropriately—designated Wood Wide Web, which allows trees long-distance, intra-tree communication through mycorrhizal fungi at their roots. That knowledge, and the tale of savvy, giraffe-battling acacias, will be familiar to readers of Peter Wohlleben’s Can You Hear the Trees Talking? (2019). This text goes further by stressing cooperation rather than competition among different tree species and, indeed, by declaring that trees are the entire planet’s “best defense against climate change.” There are excellent explanations of standard topics such as photosynthesis along with revelations about how many insect species were found on one tree in Costa Rica, why most of Malaysia’s tualang trees are protected (home to Asian rock bees, a type of honeybee), and the urgent necessity of reforestation. Final pages offer further information, organized by the poem titles. With the exception of some awkwardly depicted animals, the illustrations complement the text’s quality of reverence. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.9% of actual size.)

Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy. (glossary, sources, websites) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23707-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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