Repeated perusals will have readers proclaiming it’s grrrrr-eat.

MOST OF THE BETTER NATURAL THINGS IN THE WORLD

An artistic envisioning of a list poem, of sorts, about place.

With the exception of two double-page spreads reading “CLOUD FOREST” and “ALPINE LAKE,” Eggers’ text consists of single words on successive spreads, each one naming a geographic feature. Chang’s lush illustrations place a white, bipedal tiger in each setting, a yellow chair lashed to its back as it travels left to right with the page turns. There’s a dreamlike quality to the scenes as the intrepid tiger traverses, among other places, a gorge, a fjord, an atoll, an estuary, and a lagoon. At the center of the book, a dramatic double-gatefold spread presents (what else?) a “VISTA.” But where is the tiger going? And what is the chair’s purpose? Readers’ interest will be sustained by these looming questions and by deft shifts of visual perspective offered in the illustrations. The reward is an instance of clever wordplay in a concluding spread that shows the tiger arriving at a “TAIGA” (which, along with the other geographic terms, is defined in a backmatter glossary). Amid this “swampy forest...found in the northern parts of the globe,” a tiger family sits around a table set for a meal, with an empty place awaiting the tiger who’s traveled so far.

Repeated perusals will have readers proclaiming it’s grrrrr-eat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6282-9

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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