A fascinating primer on the intricacies of ecosystems.



The practice of repopulating nearly extinct animals and plant life is explained and illustrated in great detail.

What do the Arabian onyx, the Iberian lynx, and the peregrine falcon have in common? Each of these animals was in danger of becoming extinct or of disappearing from a home habitat, at least until researchers stepped in to protect them. This exhaustive volume tells the stories of several dozen animals and plants that were brought back from the brink. The book explains the concept of rewilding up front, showing how biologists are able to help these creatures gain numbers and then reenter nature. But far from a glossing over of what happens then, Steen also explains why some of these efforts fail, arguments against the practice (for instance, introducing predators near populated areas is potentially risky), and, most importantly, how to help these efforts. In detailing why environmental changes caused by humans can cause a chain reaction leading to the decimation of, say, the Kihansi spray toad, the team offers a nuanced view of why bad things can happen to ecosystems even unintentionally. Most interesting is that each species and habitat is a whole new challenge; there’s no one-size-fits-all cure-all that can restore a balance in nature, and sometimes achieving balance isn’t possible. This nuanced view holds throughout the book’s 80 finely illustrated pages, where the animals are presented not as cutesy anthropomorphized creatures but in a realistic, no-less-endearing style. For younger readers, it may not be a volume that’s consumed in one sitting, but there’s enough variety of stories and helpful additions, such as a glossary and a “What Can You Do?” page, that it’s a book worth returning to multiple times. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fascinating primer on the intricacies of ecosystems. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68449-222-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Neon Squid/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.


From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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