Just a footnote—but worth treasuring for its very unlikeliness.

A RAVEN NAMED GRIP

HOW A BIRD INSPIRED TWO FAMOUS WRITERS, CHARLES DICKENS AND EDGAR ALLAN POE

An expanded version of one of the several solutions to the Mad Hatter’s riddle about how a raven is like a writing desk: Poe and Dickens wrote on both.

It’s a neat literary anecdote, though, as more than one raven was involved, Singer has to fudge it a bit. It seems that Charles Dickens kept a succession of pesky ravens as pets, all named Grip. The first he turned into a character in Barnaby Rudge and then had stuffed and mounted when it died. The second was incorporated into a painting of the author’s children that he took with him on an American tour—where Poe saw it in Philadelphia and, being a struggling writer who, as the narrative puts it, “needed a hit,” penned a certain renowned poem. The rest is history. Adding the occasional inscribed Nevermore to tempt listeners to chime in, Fotheringham outfits the two gently caricatured White men and several racially diverse gaggles of laughing children in period clothing and sends multiple ravens, all bearing the same cocky smile, fluttering through the illustrations. Along with added-value closing notes on the ravens of the Tower of London (many named Gripp) and the corvid clan in general, this genial account closes the circle by following Grip I down the years to its current, permanent home…in Philadelphia. It seems only right. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just a footnote—but worth treasuring for its very unlikeliness. (bibliography, web sites) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32472-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more