A basic biological process presented appropriately for the beginning reader.


From the I Like To Read series

A tadpole can hardly wait to grow up.

A frog’s life cycle is ably and appealingly presented in an early-reader format by an experienced science writer. As the tadpole grows, it continually asks its neighbor, a snail, the title question, the equivalent of “Are we there yet?” The snail patiently explains each growth stage: the egg, where the frog started; the tadpole stage, including its parts and what they are for; and the changes on the way in the future. Leaping forward, in the penultimate act, the nearly transformed frog emerges to see the sky and feel the air. It will return to the water until its tail has been absorbed and it can survive both in and out of water. The conversation between frog and snail is presented in two colors, allowing dual read-alouds. The words and sentences are simple, with plenty of repetition. Rockwell’s illustrations, created with watercolor washes and digital tools, support beginning readers and add further information. We see the frog’s changing shape and size, its environment, some of its neighbors, and even its new long tongue, catching a dragonfly prey. An illustration toward the end depicts the frog life cycle—a solid review of the material covered in the book. These simple illustrations are realistic and accurate, right down to the snail. Reading teachers will especially welcome this informative title. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A basic biological process presented appropriately for the beginning reader. (Informational early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-5078-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.


Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.


From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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