WATCHING DESERT WILDLIFE

Arnosky (Crinkleroot’s Visit to Crinkle Cove, p. 892, etc.) departs from his usual wildlife settings with a trip to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts of the American Southwest. The artist turns an eye, and a camera, on the desert’s animals, always on the lookout for a lizard darting beneath rocks or an elf owl tucked in a hole of the giant saguaro, set against a landscape of rocks and grasses. Rock squirrel and roadrunner, coral snake and turkey vulture—each provide an opportunity for sketching wildlife in its habitat. Tips for observing desert wildlife are interspersed among the comments themselves, rounded out with habits and characteristics of every creature. Writing in a conversational style, Arnosky catalogs his trip from the car window, along the dusty trail, or standing on a field, always making the factual information personal. In a volume resembling Virginia Wright-Frierson’s A Desert Scrapbook (1996), many of the detailed drawings are not only lifelike, but life-size, shown from a distance or up close, as it would appear through a telephoto lens. Glorious colors—the emerald green of a Sonoran whipsnake, the pink stain of a pronghorn’s waterhole—lift the desert landscape and its creatures out of the dust and into the light. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7922-7304-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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