Each chapter of this field guide focuses on one wildlife field trip in which the reader can discover, investigate, identify, and learn about the various plants and animals that live in the wild. The text is filled with Arnosky’s (All About Frogs, p. 42, etc.) characteristically detailed pencil sketches, which will help readers in identifying the various flora and fauna. In fact, the drawings and captions give information that adds to the reader’s understanding of the topic. They also serve as an example for children to use in setting up their own wildlife field notebook. Any chapter can stand alone, complete with its own safety precautions and identification charts. In the first, readers are introduced to the various insects and arachnids that fill the world, and are given hints for finding, viewing, and identifying bugs. Animal Tracking introduces the wealth of information that can be learned about an animal from just one set of tracks. Chapter three teaches readers about bird-watching, and is especially good at helping children learn the identifying marks that can distinguish one bird from another. Lastly, readers are taught about the many and varied plants and animals that can be found along the edges of water—salt or fresh. Throughout, the author does a good job of introducing and defining new terms to young readers. His chapters are short, easy to understand, and filled with illustrations. While most of the text relates to the bolded title that precedes it, there are times that paragraphs seem out of place or disjointed. In addition, many young readers may not appreciate the author’s introductory section to each chapter, as this details his own education and experience with the topic. Still, this is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to know more about the great outdoors, and especially for anyone who is a budding nature artist—and who better than Arnosky to serve as an example? (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-15172-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.


From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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