Breathtaking visuals and a compelling story seamlessly integrate conservation facts.

SAVING SORYA

CHANG AND THE SUN BEAR

An uplifting story about wildlife protection in Vietnam (and originally published there) inspired by real events from the wildlife-conservationist author’s life.

After witnessing a brutal bear-bile extraction as a young girl, Chang becomes determined to become a wildlife conservationist. These dreams are met with mockery and derision due to Chang’s age and gender as well as cultural perceptions about conservation as a career. Despite these challenges, Chang persists with studying and is accepted as a volunteer at Cat Tien National Park, narrating it all in a conversational tone that is equally genial in recounting events and presenting fascinating animal facts. At the park, Chang learns how to care for rescued animals and starts volunteering with Free The Bears, another organization. During this time, a young sun bear cub named Sorya is brought to the center from a bear-bile farm. Chang works with Sorya to prepare her for eventual release back into the wild. Zdung’s use of watercolors in his frankly gorgeous illustrations enhances the rainforest setting, and the portrayals of its animal inhabitants are the epitome of wild and free. While the natural images tend to be realistic, the human characters are drawn in a manga-influenced style with elements like oversized eyes, large sweat drops, and speed lines. This blending of styles and varied panel layouts creates dynamic spreads and stunning page turns. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Breathtaking visuals and a compelling story seamlessly integrate conservation facts. (illustrator's note, about the creators) (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35363-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both.

FLASH FACTS

Flash, Batman, and other characters from the DC Comics universe tackle supervillains and STEM-related topics and sometimes, both.

Credited to 20 writers and illustrators in various combinations, the 10 episodes invite readers to tag along as Mera and Aquaman visit oceanic zones from epipelagic to hadalpelagic; Supergirl helps a young scholar pick a science-project topic by taking her on a tour of the solar system; and Swamp Thing lends Poison Ivy a hand to describe how DNA works (later joining Swamp Kid to scuttle a climate-altering scheme by Arcane). In other episodes, various costumed creations explain the ins and outs of diverse large- and small-scale phenomena, including electricity, atomic structure, forensic techniques, 3-D printing, and the lactate threshold. Presumably on the supposition that the characters will be more familiar to readers than the science, the minilectures tend to start from simple basics, but the figures are mostly both redrawn to look more childlike than in the comics and identified only in passing. Drawing styles and page designs differ from chapter to chapter but not enough to interrupt overall visual unity and flow—and the cast is sufficiently diverse to include roles for superheroes (and villains) of color like Cyborg, Kid Flash, and the Latina Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. Appended lists of websites and science-based YouTube channels, plus instructions for homespun activities related to each episode, point inspired STEM-winders toward further discoveries.

Contentwise, an arbitrary assortment…but sure to draw fans of comics, of science, or of both. (Graphic nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-382-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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