Charmingly illustrated and beautifully written but lacking in Indigenous human context.

SERENGETI

PLAINS OF GRASS

An introduction to the animal and plant life of the vast grasslands of the Serengeti, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In Bulion’s latest blend of science and poetry, the Serengeti’s complex ecosystem is described, from the impressive migrations of large mammals to the roles played by the smallest insects. Beginning and ending with a brief overview of the region, each two-page spread features a four-line verse inspired by the Swahili poetic form utendi with accompanying factual information. Alongside zebras, giraffes, and cheetahs, readers encounter dik-diks, waste paper flowers, secretary birds, and black mambas. The poems are scientifically informative (“wildebeests feast on shorter swards / oxpecker birds are stowaboards”), evocative (“butterflies flutter at nectar wells”), and a delight to read (“low-ground growth is nimbly used, / fleet gazelles nibble gnu-mown grass”). Another highlight is the thoughtful detail in the expressive paintings conveying the dynamism of both the land and the animals; Stadtlander is especially gifted at portraying the beauty of the Serengeti at various times of day. Bulion’s closing note briefly touches upon numerous threats to the Serengeti’s ecosystem including climate change, tourism, domestic crops and livestock, poaching, and road construction. Unfortunately, the Indigenous Maasai are largely omitted from this account; a reference to the negative impact of human population growth is not given sufficient context and may feed into controversial notions of overpopulation.

Charmingly illustrated and beautifully written but lacking in Indigenous human context. (note on poetry, glossary, organizations, further reading, map) (Informational poetry. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68263-191-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more