Informative and appealing—but flawed.

INSECTS

A photo essay invites young readers to explore the world of insects.

Master science writer Simon knows how to craft nonfiction, choosing interesting topics, appropriate examples, and just the right level of information for elementary school readers. His newest title is no exception. Well-organized, lucid descriptions include the characteristics of insects, their body parts, life stages, size, numbers, history, and sensory equipment. He goes into further detail about five common orders: Coleoptera (beetles), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Hymenoptera (bees and wasps), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), and Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). He describes other insects that stand out—strangest, most beautiful, fastest, heaviest, longest, and smallest—and concludes with the importance of insects in the world. Carefully chosen and beautifully reproduced photographs (most from Shutterstock) appear on each page. Vocabulary that might be unfamiliar is printed in boldface and defined in a glossary. Alas, in this otherwise splendid introduction, the author says “Butterflies and moths are similar in these ways:...Larvae form cocoons during the pupa stage before they emerge as adults.” This is not true of most butterflies, which protect themselves as pupae with chrysalises. Scientists and teachers have been working to correct this common misconception, and young readers who know something about insects will recognize the mistake. (Indeed, the caption on the facing page says, “Butterfly emerges from chrysalis.”

Informative and appealing—but flawed. (index, websites) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-228915-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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