A fine collection of poetical odes to a nicely diverse group of nighttime fauna.

AFTER DARK

POEMS ABOUT NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Who’s out at night, and what do they do? These poems answer that for you.

Shhhh, listen… / Hear that howling? / Dogs don’t howl, / not like that.” It’s coyotes that are on the hunt, and everyone from mouse to deer better be on the lookout. Harrison’s night is broadly populated. Some mark their territory or hide from large predators. A mother skunk teaches her children not to venture into the road. Fireflies flash looking for mates in the grass, a little as though the insects are texting one another. Meanwhile: “Along a path of slime / you softly flow, / scraping holes in petals / as you go”; the leopard slug eats hollyhocks and daffodils, all the while leaving a slimy trail as proof it was there in the night. The Mexican free-tail bat is on bug patrol. Twenty-one animals who live by the light of the moon get profiled in Harrison’s poems, written in a variety of forms, some rhymed and most not. Each is featured in a one- or two-page spread with realistic, appropriately dark, attractive illustrations by Laberis. Though none are anthropomorphized, they still have plenty of personality. A kit fox yawns luxuriantly; a flathead catfish opens its huge mouth to suck in a hapless frog. Two pages of backmatter reveal four further facts about each profiled animal.

A fine collection of poetical odes to a nicely diverse group of nighttime fauna. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-717-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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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

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