An intriguing episode of colliding worlds.

THE LITTLE OWL & THE BIG TREE

A CHRISTMAS STORY

This true story follows a tiny owl whose home becomes the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

She is a northern saw-whet owl, a nameless wild animal, so tiny that “it’s doubtful anybody knew she existed.” She sleeps by day and hunts by night, alone and peaceful—until one day the sounds of voices and power tools awaken her. Her tree moves. It shakes. It falls down. It is wrapped, loaded onto a truck, and driven for hours down a noisy highway. When the truck stops, there are new sounds, and when the tree is unwrapped, the owl comes out of her hole, tired and hungry from three days without food. She is found and brought to a wildlife rescue center, where she is nursed back to health. Meanwhile, her tree is decked with lights and put up in New York City. The owl is now famous, and she has been named Rockefeller—but of course she doesn’t know about that. When she is well, she is released into the wild. Jeanette Winter’s signature illustrations center the owl and her natural habitat even as the text straddles the human perspective on the owl’s world in a way that makes each strange to the other. This story poses as many questions as it answers, leaving readers to discuss and wonder at the relation of wilderness to civilization. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An intriguing episode of colliding worlds. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.

SHARKBLOCK

From the Block Books series

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.

SHARKS

From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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