An animated precis—but it’s quixotic at best and somewhat shifty as a foundation for further study.

ATOM

THE BUILDING BLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE

A valiant attempt to make modern atomic theory comprehensible to the picture-book set.

From first spread to last, exuberant typographical design combines with bright colors, cartoon images, and collage assemblages of clipped bits of paper and old portraits of Einstein and other luminaries to create considerable visual brio. Miles explains how we may not always know exactly where electrons are, but they, along with protons and (sometimes) neutrons, make up atoms, atoms of the same sort make up elements as charted on the periodic table, and elements combine into, say, all of the components in a chocolate-chip cookie. “And that’s nothing compared to living things.” But the author achieves a coherent narrative only by fudging (so to speak), surrounding said cookie, for instance, with chemical formulas but admitting in a footnote that chocolate alone actually has more ingredients than he has room to list. He outright ignores certain complications like isotopes, fundamental forces, or (aside from one reference buried in the closing timeline) quarks. A quote right at the outset from Neils Bohr alluding to how quantum theory is a total game-changer leaves readers to wonder how much of the ensuing presentation actually represents reality. All of the historical figures in view are White, but the fictional human characters that populate the pages are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An animated precis—but it’s quixotic at best and somewhat shifty as a foundation for further study. (source list, index) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63819-100-1

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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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

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