An attractive (in both senses) early foray into the wild world.

ANIMALS

From the Magnetology series

Budding naturalists can place 45 animals with magnetic backings on any of five double-page habitats.

Visible through a large hole cut into the front cover, the animals come out of a reusable storage pocket inside and are both identified and arranged into related groups at the back. In between, readers find polar, savanna, coral-reef, temperate-forest, and rainforest scenes with several creatures in view. Brief observations that serve as prompts (“Look! A wild boar is taking her young to look for mushrooms”) offer plenty of space to arrange and rearrange the magnetized additions. The overall look is bright and benign. Aside from a mention that forest animals eat “berries, bugs, and small creatures” and one glimpse of a friendly-looking cheetah loping unthreateningly after an antelope, there is no reference to predation anywhere, and all of Tisserand’s wildlife, even birds and fish, are smiling. They are, however, small enough to make the choke-hazard warning on the back cover cogent. Though a good shake may well send them flying, the creatures are magnetic enough to stay in place when the book is held up or laid on a tilted surface. They will stick to a refrigerator too, though not firmly enough to hold anything. There are no human figures in the art.

An attractive (in both senses) early foray into the wild world. (Novelty. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 979-1-02760-998-7

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A good-enough gateway to more detailed texts but not on par with earlier works. (Graphic informational early reader. 4-6)

ANTS DON'T WEAR PANTS!

From the Giggle and Learn series

Ants are always moving, as this comic’s insect inhabitants collectively proclaim, and McCloskey’s fast-paced narrative stays true to this assertion.

Two children on a playground shrink to investigate an anthill, cursorily revealing myriad ant facts. Ant anatomy, the life cycle of an ant and a colony, the structure and hierarchy of the colony, and an exploration of the four ant senses (touch, smell, hearing, and taste) are covered in one- to two-page spreads, revealing some interesting tidbits of information (e.g., ants hear with their legs). The second half of the anthill tour provides some detail on various types of ant species, such as leaf-cutter ants, trap-jaw ants, and exploding ants. An amusing (and incomplete) list titled “What Ants Eat” is followed by a superfluous reintroduction of the children, again child-sized, which closes the volume. The book’s best feature is its illustrations. Painted on recycled grocery bags, the ants are detailed and expressive, making the children (one white-presenting and one black-) seem static in comparison, an impression exacerbated by the clumsy dialogue passing between the two. The facts fare better, although some spreads feel a bit crowded and organization is loose. The brevity of the information revealed may inspire independent research in older readers, which has the potential to yield some fascinating results. Somewhat disappointingly, the title has no bearing whatsoever on the text.

A good-enough gateway to more detailed texts but not on par with earlier works. (Graphic informational early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943145-45-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An interesting thought experiment, but it doesn’t quite take off.

KNOWING THE NAME OF A BIRD

What’s in a name? The characteristics of a bird cannot be conveyed by the names we give them—or by words in general.

According to Yolen, birds are given both scientific and popular names, such as robin, hawk, peacock, or swan, but neither name captures anything about what the bird is really like. The individuality of a bird, such as its color, or more tactile qualities, such as “The dinosaur feet, / crooked and brown, / or the talons with / nails as hard as / an old man’s,” are not conveyed by the name we give it. A bird’s name can’t convey its movement in space or the drama of a peacock’s outspread tail or the nature of its flight or even if it flies at all. (Picture the emu or the ostrich.) A concluding quote from noted physicist Richard Feynman sums it up: “You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing about the bird.” The idea is interesting, and van der Linde’s illustrations are clean, clear, and attractive, but in exploring negation the text offers little for curious, concrete-thinking young readers. It’s thematically consistent but also maddening that the book doesn’t consistently identify the birds pictured. The closing note discusses recording bird song but then shrugs away the value of those recordings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 54.3% of actual size.)

An interesting thought experiment, but it doesn’t quite take off. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-56846-349-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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