WATCHING WATER BIRDS

A cross between a naturalist's diary of backyard observations and a guide to identifying water birds, for newcomers or for pint-sized veterans of duck-feeding at the local pond. Arnosky (Rabbits & Raindrops, 1997, etc.) collects a random assortment of typical water fowl, based on personal sightings, and accompanied by sketches, notes, and full-color, actual-size portraits of a few favorites. Useful identification tips highlight dissimilarities between loons and grebes, geese and ducks, male and female of each species. One exception is the omission of visual references to egrets in their comparison with herons. Arnosky's distinctions include differences in flight characteristics, coloring and markings, and habitat selection, which sharpen the focus to an untrained eye. Birds are depicted in flight or underwater as well as coming in for a landing or gliding on water. A splash of facts inserted in side panels show such things as the mallard's habit of ``tipping up'' or where the female's wings are tucked when not in flight. In an easy conversational style, Arnosky explains just how a seagull spots the sparkling broadsides of fleeing fish underwater. Remarking on his own drawings, the author encourages readers to copy his illustrations in addition to sketching birds outdoors, taking this bird lesson a step beyond mere identification. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7922-7073-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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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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