A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike.

BUTTERFLIES ARE PRETTY…GROSS!

From the Nature's Top Secrets series

A witty look at the less-beautiful characteristics of butterflies.

As this informational book opens, a big-eyed monarch-butterfly narrator flits and flutters with its beautiful friends. Then, in metafictive fashion, it warns readers that if they want to continue believing that pretty is the essence of butterflies, “DON’T TURN THE PAGE.” Of course, curious readers will keep going! The narrator reveals the truth: “Some butterflies are gross.” Readers peer through the narrator’s binoculars as it describes in pithy text such shocking sights as butterflies slurping up dead-animal juices and offers additional undesirable adjectives, like “drab” butterflies that resemble dull leaves, an adaptation that confuses hungry birds. Comical illustrations that feature patterns and earth tones highlight the humor. But wait, there’s more, as the narrator warns once again: “OK, prepare to get weirded out.” It starts up an old-fashioned movie projector, and as it uses such monstrous terms as shape-shifters and carnivorous, it explains and shows scenes of metamorphosis, caterpillars’ diets, and more. Finally, the narrator takes readers into a top-secret lab and reveals images of butterflies tasting with their feet, eating poop, and drinking tears—and some that “have butts that look like heads.” A concluding chart depicts thumbnails of featured butterflies, further related facts, and their geographic range. All in all, it’s a fun addition—or alternative—to traditional insect study. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6592-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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