These brief glimpses will whet the appetites of wannabe wanderers of all ages.

HOW TO BABYSIT A LEOPARD

AND OTHER TRUE STORIES FROM OUR TRAVELS ACROSS SIX CONTINENTS

A husband-and-wife team, seasoned travelers, artists, and children’s-book creators, offer readers a selection of highlights from 40 years of careful observation of the natural and human worlds in places near and far.

Since the publication of Gorilla Walk in 1999, the Lewins have produced numerous titles reflecting specific adventures, but this is the first joint compilation of their travel experiences. Working continent by continent and beginning with their first safari to the Serengeti, they recount their adventures as if they were conversing with readers; sometimes one talks, sometimes the other. Some anecdotes are humorous and others sobering, especially as they note the effects of 30 years of civil war in Uganda or contrast the experience of a sloth bear in the wild with that of a captive dancing on the street near Delhi. There are scary encounters with lions, elephants, snakes, leeches, and a sharp-billed macaw—not to mention soldiers. There are curious foods—mopani worms and mushrooms the size of pizzas. They travel by horse cart and reindeer sledge and atop an elephant. They admire French bullfighters and Mongolian wrestlers and horses everywhere. They marvel, too, at spectacles close to home: a cattle roundup in Nevada, horseshoe crabs massed on the Delaware shore.

These brief glimpses will whet the appetites of wannabe wanderers of all ages. (Nonfiction. 8 & up)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-616-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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