Friendly and approachable, this compendium is sure to create some new favorites in the animal kingdom.

PIPSQUEAKS, SLOWPOKES, AND STINKERS

CELEBRATING ANIMAL UNDERDOGS

A tribute to underappreciated animals of all kinds.

Kids love pandas and elephants, big cats and great white sharks. But how many know about the naked mole rat or the western fence lizard? Dedicated to children experiencing bullying (“what others see as a weakness may actually be your strength”), Stewart’s latest focuses on some of nature’s most underrated creatures. One double-page spread highlights one or two animals that share a particular feature: size, smell, speed, appearance, energy level, etc. The following double-page spread gives an overview of the ways that trait helps them survive in the wild. The book covers animals both familiar, such as koalas and walruses, and more unusual, like hoatzins and the skunklike zorilla. Stewart’s narrative voice is casual and peppy: “Let’s start with this little critter—the Etruscan pygmy shrew. / It’s a real pipsqueak. Look, its name is longer than its body.” Laberis’ digitally rendered illustrations are warm and dynamic, simultaneously silly and realistic—a perfect match for the text and topic. Relatively minimal information about each animal is provided, but it’s enough to spark interest for further exploration. Backmatter includes “More About the Underdogs” and a list of selected sources.

Friendly and approachable, this compendium is sure to create some new favorites in the animal kingdom. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56145-936-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

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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