A story as charmingly mesmerizing as a silvery snail’s trail on a summer morning.



A poetic introduction to evolution, mutation, and the necessary reproduction to achieve both along the way.

Author Popova takes readers on a journey through time, beginning with the emergence of single-celled organisms and ending on another one-in-a-million chance: a potential future snail with a particular, rare recessive gene. Gentle, lyrical text briefly outlines the evolution of modern life on Earth before introducing Jeremy, a common garden snail with a rare left-spiraling shell, found by chance by a human scientist who had recently listened to a snail researcher on the radio. So begins Jeremy the snail’s path to the spotlight—with a few detours to touch on human politics, the concept of gender, and a floral metaphor or two about genetics. Tread lightly: The vivid and memorable (but never prurient) description of the mechanics of snail reproduction and the use of the scientific term hermaphrodite without discussion of the more polite ways humans might describe other humans (as opposed to snails) may produce some interesting family conversations. However, Zhu’s soft, opaque illustrations of life on Earth, prehistoric and modern, micro and macro, are sure to enchant readers of all ages. The oversized trim allows her to play up the snail’s tininess in long perspectives, and close-ups are luscious; both enhance the narration’s sense of playful awe.

A story as charmingly mesmerizing as a silvery snail’s trail on a summer morning. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-349-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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Not the duo’s best, but fans will enjoy the effort.


From the There Was an Old Lady series

“There was an old scientist who swallowed a dinosaur. / I don’t know why she swallowed a dinosaur, but she went to explore.”

She swallows a fern to feed the saurian, then a rock and a pick and a dustpan. In between the old scientist’s gastronomical feats, two children, one tan-skinned and one light-skinned—ask each other questions or spout facts about dinosaurs and paleontology. “Fossils are rocks containing traces of the past.” “Evidence of plants and animals built to last!” The book, the latest of Colandro’s many takes on the “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” song, closes with the old scientist, the kids, and the dinosaurs visiting a museum of natural history. With a rhyme scheme that is often as strained as the conceit of the voracious old lady, Colandro makes another foray into nonfiction that is relatively light on facts (previous titles have explored holidays, the seasons, astronomy, and undersea life). Lee is again along to offer his signature bug-eyed and scribbly illustrations that can be a bit unnerving at times. The children’s rhyming banter in speech bubbles interrupts the old lady patter, making the whole at once familiar and clunky. Paleo facts and a scavenger hunt at the end might add to the instruction and the fun respectively. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not the duo’s best, but fans will enjoy the effort. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-66840-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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