Handsome bookmaking, integral cultural information, and dynamic illustrations interact perfectly.

A KUNWINJKU COUNTING BOOK

This volume, counting to 12 in both English and Kunwinjku, presents illustrated information about animals found in West Arnhem Land, in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Each entry includes the digit, the written numeral in a descriptive phrase, and a general species name in both languages. The text color for the digit and written numerals is ochre—helpful, since Kunwinjku numerals can be multiple words. Several paragraphs precisely describe the animal’s natural habitat, characteristics, and significance to the Aboriginal peoples of West Arnhem Land. Often, these animals are valued as food, and both traditional and modern methods of hunting and cooking them are mentioned. On the page counting “Eight water pythons / slithering in the mud / Kunbidkudji dja danjbik / borlokko karribirri wake / kukih,” Maralngurra and Wright explain, “We hunt for borlokko by searching for them in the water with our hands. They have small, sharp teeth, but they aren’t venomous.” When appropriate, he makes cultural distinctions in how different regional groups relate to the species. “Duwa people…cannot eat borlokko because of their religious beliefs, but Yirridjdja people (another group) can.” Animals include spoonbills, echidnas, turtles, and knob-tailed geckos. The exquisite illustrations derive inspiration in technique, colors, and visual iconography from ancient rock paintings preserved within the region. Intricate ink hatching, or rarrk, “x-ray style” (the depiction of the animals’ insides), and a traditional palette of ochre, browns, white, and black richly distinguish this work. Maralngurra is a member of the Ngaingbali clan; Wright is of settler heritage.

Handsome bookmaking, integral cultural information, and dynamic illustrations interact perfectly. (further information, artist bio, pronunciation notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-59270-356-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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