Curious kids may enjoy browsing through this cornucopia of island facts.



A compendium of oddly interesting facts about islands, large and small, and their human and animal inhabitants.

Weiss and Hyndman open by defining island and other names associated with this geographical term, like “islet, skerry, or cay—these are names for very small islands” and “ait—a small island, often found in a river or lake.” Subsequent double-page spreads introduce individual islands or island groups like the Galápagos, Cuba, the British Isles, and Sri Lanka. In no particular arrangement, topical spreads are intermixed. Lists of large and small islands, “[y]oungest natural islands,” and a world map showing the locations of the islands mentioned will satisfy reference buffs. The illustrations feature a heavy emphasis on green and blue tones, sometimes muted, and occasionally obscuring the small print of the text, making it difficult to read some descriptions. The layouts are varied and lively, with realistic details of animals and plants, and occasional foldouts add both more space for information and a bit of excitement. The text and the illustrations usually complement each other well, but, unfortunately, on the spread on river islands, the text mentions the Empire State Building (nowhere to be found in the picture) but not the Freedom Tower (which dominates the skyline). People pictured are diverse, but the depictions of “island peoples” tend toward the exoticized.

Curious kids may enjoy browsing through this cornucopia of island facts. (glossary, pronunciation guide, index, sources) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-912920-16-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.


From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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