A fascinating view of interdependency.

JUST YOU AND ME

REMARKABLE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE WILD

Nature’s symbiotic relationships are outlined in a poetic text featuring some unlikely animal and plant partnerships.

As an introduction, an adult and child (the former White, the latter with olive skin and black hair) plant a garden together. “Just you and me. / Just me and you. / We’re perfect pairs! / Here’s what we do….” An explanation of the term symbiosis is then provided, which leads into the various natural collaborations presented. Interestingly, the majority of the natural partnerships are those casual readers might consider improbable on the face of it. A Nile crocodile hosts an Egyptian plover (also known as the crocodile bird) in its mouth to help clean its teeth of food scraps, which become the bird’s meal. Zebras and ostriches herd together and rely on one another’s senses to warn of danger. More-well-known and perhaps obvious duos are included, such as the bee helping the flower spread its pollen or a sloth relying on the green algae that grows on its back to camouflage itself against predators within the greenery of the trees. Each team is allotted a double-page spread and introduced with a rhyming verse: “I wear your green among the trees. / You hide me well so no one sees / a hanging sloth that moves quite slow, / as predators lurk far below.” This is followed by a detailed explanation in a smaller font: “Algae make their home on sloth fur, turning it green in the process.” The crisp, unambiguous artwork reinforces the learning and understanding of these incredible partnerships that thrive in the natural world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fascinating view of interdependency. (sources) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6098-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners.

THE MESS THAT WE MADE

The cadences of a familiar nursery rhyme introduce concerns about ocean garbage and what we, who made the mess, can do to help clean it up.

With the rhyme and meter of “The House That Jack Built,” Lord builds the problem of plastic waste in the oceans from the fish that must swim through it to a netted seal, a trapped turtle, and overflowing landfills before turning to remedies: cleaning beaches and bays, reducing waste, and protesting the use of fishing nets. Two pages of backmatter describe problems in more detail, while a third elaborates potential solutions; suggestions for individual action are provided as well. Blattman’s images begin with a racially diverse group of youngsters in a small boat in the center of a plastic trash gyre. The children, shown at different angles, bob spread by spread over trash-filled waters. To accompany the words, “Look at the mess that we made,” she adds a polluted city skyline and a container ship belching smoke to the scene. Finally, the dismayed young boaters reach a beach where a clean-up is in process. From their little skiff they help scoop up trash, rescue the turtle, and wave protest signs. The message is important, even vital in today’s world, but many caregivers and many environmentalists would eschew this doomful approach as a means of introducing environmental concerns to the early-elementary audience who might be drawn in by the nursery rhyme.

Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners. (map) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947277-14-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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