A welcome addition to the eye-catching series that began with Wild Tracks (2008).

FROZEN WILD

HOW ANIMALS SURVIVE IN THE COLDEST PLACES ON EARTH

Continuing his exploration of the world around us, a wildlife artist takes readers to icy polar habitats far from his Vermont home.

Chapter by chapter, Arnosky introduces animals who thrive in spite of the cold: under the ice and over the snow in northern winters and in the Arctic and Antarctic. Acrylic paintings spread across the expanse of fold-out pages, adding to readers’ feelings of immersion in these unfamiliar environments. The animals are shown in groups that would be unlikely in the wild, as when a polar bear and walrus look over the edge of an ice floe as a narwhal, beluga, and harbor seal swim nearby. These make for interesting comparisons. Shaded pencil drawings illustrate simple explanations of the reasons for seasons, the inhospitable climates of polar regions, and some of the adaptations that make animal survival possible. Even more than in Tooth and Claw (2014) and similar titles, the artist based his illustrations on photographs from reference books and pictures of animals in captivity, but in an author’s note he reminds readers that some animals pictured migrate long distances and might also be seen in more temperate climes. With short descriptions filled with the kinds of details that intrigue young readers, he invites his audience to further explorations.

A welcome addition to the eye-catching series that began with Wild Tracks (2008). (suggested reading) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1025-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety.

THE GOLDEN SWIFT

From the Silver Arrow series , Vol. 2

Children with magical talking steam trains are thrilled by their clever new plan to rescue endangered animals.

Eleven-year-old Kate absolutely adores her secret job—helping animals in need by using the magical locomotive that was a gift from her billionaire wizard uncle. Kate loves riding the Silver Arrow with Uncle Herbert; her brother, Tom; and the talking animals they escort to safe places. But now Uncle Herbert is missing, 9-year-old Tom seems more interested in hapkido than their supernatural train, and Kate’s struggling socially and academically thanks to her eco-anxiety. No matter how many animals she helps, no matter how many adults proclaim that climate change is a critical issue, the environment keeps getting worse. One night Kate discovers another train driving on the magical railroad: The Golden Swift is conducted by her classmate Jag, who thinks rescuing stranded creatures isn’t sufficiently radical. When Kate joins him, she feels more inspired and more righteous than ever before. This time, she’s actually making the world better! Kate’s unhappy discoveries of unintended consequences and the moral complexities of her activism are softened by humor. The snarky banter of the talking locomotive is an understated delight, as is the train constructed with, among others, candy and ice cream cars, an invisible car, and a dojo car. Kate and Tom are White; Jag is described as having dark skin and black hair and possibly being Indian. Charming illustrations enhance the text.

Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-28354-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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