Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy.

THE WISDOM OF TREES

HOW TREES WORK TOGETHER TO FORM A NATURAL KINGDOM

In poetry, prose, and art, examples from around the world teach both basic botany and current, even cutting-edge, research about trees.

Each double-page spread includes detailed watercolor art, a short, titled poem, and prose paragraphs that extend each poem’s meaning. As the text explains: “The poems in this book reveal what trees might say if they did use words.” The poems are written in an accessible free verse with a pleasing rhythm and near rhymes, and they include sly homage to both Shakespearean verse and more modern memes. Equally accessible prose introduces readers to the humorously—but appropriately—designated Wood Wide Web, which allows trees long-distance, intra-tree communication through mycorrhizal fungi at their roots. That knowledge, and the tale of savvy, giraffe-battling acacias, will be familiar to readers of Peter Wohlleben’s Can You Hear the Trees Talking? (2019). This text goes further by stressing cooperation rather than competition among different tree species and, indeed, by declaring that trees are the entire planet’s “best defense against climate change.” There are excellent explanations of standard topics such as photosynthesis along with revelations about how many insect species were found on one tree in Costa Rica, why most of Malaysia’s tualang trees are protected (home to Asian rock bees, a type of honeybee), and the urgent necessity of reforestation. Final pages offer further information, organized by the poem titles. With the exception of some awkwardly depicted animals, the illustrations complement the text’s quality of reverence. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.9% of actual size.)

Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy. (glossary, sources, websites) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23707-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more