Books by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Released: Feb. 12, 2019

"An uneven and ultimately disappointing exploration of an interesting topic. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)"
Amelia Earhart, D.B. Cooper, and Jimmy Hoffa are among many whose mysterious disappearances have significantly added to their fame. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

"Young nature lovers will gobble this up. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)"
A naturalist recalls his year as a turkey "mother." Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

"With well-chosen, clearly conveyed facts and handsome compositions that invite study, this team delivers another fine effort, equally well-suited to family browsing and classroom use. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
Fourteen creatures lay claim to the title posed in Guiberson's central question: "Who is the deadliest creature in the world?" Read full book review >
FEATHERED DINOSAURS by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: March 1, 2016

"Fine viewing, but more of an art exhibit than a systematic family history. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 8-10)"
Recently discovered hints that most dinosaurs may have been feathered cap a gallery of prehistoric predecessors to today's birds. Read full book review >
Released: June 16, 2015

"Inviting their readers to choose the answer themselves, this skillful author-illustrator pair again encourages their senses of wonder at the natural world. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
Who is the most amazing creature in the sea? Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Dino lovers will learn how their favorites stack up. (Informational picture book. 4-8)"
Guiberson presents arguments as to why each of 12 dinosaurs should be considered the greatest—tallest, longest, fastest, smartest, best-armored, etc. Read full book review >
FROG SONG by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Feb. 5, 2013

"Another harmonious salute to the natural world by an accomplished pair. (Informational picture book. 4-9)"
In this oversized album, 11 frogs from around the world exemplify the varied ways frogs find enough moisture to keep themselves and their eggs and tadpoles alive. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2010

Few topics are more intrinsically interesting to young readers than disasters. Guiberson casts her net wide to examine ten natural and man-made disasters chronologically from smallpox in colonial America to Hurricane Katrina. The 20-page chapters, broken into subsections, describe the events with quotations from contemporary accounts and plenty of grim details. Photographs, drawings and diagrams, all usefully captioned, extend the lively text. The author analyzes causes of the disasters and factors that exacerbated them, such as building on landfill in 1906 San Francisco. In most chapters, she explores steps that could prevent or reduce future catastrophes, although only a brief introduction ties the chapters together. A Notes section highlights major sources for each chapter, without specific references, followed by an extensive bibliography but no further reading suggestions as such. Good for pleasure reading and as a starting point for research. (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 11-14)Read full book review >
MOON BEAR by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: May 11, 2010

With a series of questions and haiku-like answers, Guiberson (Ice Bears, 2008) introduces young readers and listeners to bears from a far-off place. "Who plucks raspberries / and plops red scat in the tangle? Blissful moon bear, / feasting on juicy summer fruit." While much of her alliterative text focuses on the Asian Moon Bear's varied diet, the narrative covers a year in which one bear emerges in spring, forages uphill and down and hibernates again, producing cubs. Collages of textured papers, parts of photographs and varied backgrounds form the stylized illustrations. Some of the bear's white neck stripes form human silhouettes, and Young uses bear silhouettes in his endpapers. Though the art is impressive, some images are confusing, distracting from rather than supporting the text. A two-page author's note doesn't mention the bile industry directly but describes bears in cages and shows photographs of rescued bears happily playing at the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Center in China. A website is included but not sources or additional information. Tempting but not nutritious. (Informational picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
EARTH by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: March 1, 2010

A polar bear tumbles on cracking ice, allowing the seal that was to be her prey to escape. A North Sea puffin returns to her nest with her beak empty of the departed sand eels that would have fed her chick. Taking younger readers around the globe, Guiberson presents a series of vignettes featuring animals in distress due to changes in climate and in each asks: "Who can help?" Wallace provides additional emotional resonance with soft-focus scenes of depressed-looking creatures in natural settings enhanced by dark lighting and subtly modulated colors. He closes with a view of children planting a tree, which the author reinforces with a direct answer to her own question—"PEOPLE CAN!"—and a page of energy-saving tips. Analytical readers might note that the author doesn't show much feeling for that seal, the sand eels and other wildlife that might benefit from or at least adapt to global warming—but as a heartfelt and eye-catching appeal to sympathy, this is likely to be more effective in raising consciousness about climate issues than a more balanced approach would. (Informational picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
LIFE IN THE BOREAL FOREST by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Stretching around the far north of our world, the boreal forest is a unique ecosystem facing a variety of threats. The tone of this attractively designed introduction is set by the attacking lynx on the cover and the somber gray-green forest scene on the endpapers. Detailed watercolors in dark reds and browns fill three-quarters of each double-page spread, while cogent text appears along one side, describing the inhabitants and stressing the interdependent and cyclical nature of their world. Onomatopoetic words ("Ker lee loo!" call the whooping cranes) add another sensory image. This oversized picture book will read aloud well; in most cases the illustrated figures are large enough for members of a small group to pick out the animals: whooping cranes, beavers, a berry-eating bear, a caribou searching for lichen. Plants are included as well, from fir trees to carnivorous pitcher plants. A list of organizations involved in preserving the boreal forest appears opposite the copyright page, and an author's note at the end adds a short explanation of the importance of this unusual, endangered environment. Beautiful and useful. (Informational picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
ICE BEARS by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Polar bears—so cute and cuddly, at least from a distance—have become the new poster animal in the fight against global warming, and this book earnestly tries to explain why. In December, a hibernating bear gives birth to twins. By the time the trio leaves the den in March, the mother is thin and has only a few months to hunt seals before the polar ice melts. She and the cubs survive a long Arctic summer before the ice freezes and they can hunt again. The real action takes place in the endnote: Global warming is melting the polar ice, with disastrous consequences for the bears. Unless we "take action," the bears may be lost. The book is vaguely alarmist—thin bears, starving bears—but offers readers no way to help other than a generic "burn less fossil fuels." Spirin's watercolors make the most of the bears and their habitat, but they remain symbols, not characters, despite many onomatopoeic attempts to make the tale sparkle. Robert E. Wells's Polar Bear, Why Is Your World Melting? (2008) is the far superior book. (Informational picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
MUD CITY by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: June 1, 2005

A young flamingo hatches and grows to maturity in a narrative that packs an enormous amount of information into what is a very simple story. The "mud city" of the title is the flamingos' salty Bahamian hatching ground, evocatively rendered with precise prose. Guiberson relates the perils—sudden storms, wild pigs—and pleasures—shrimp "soup," the mating dance—of flamingo life with equal dispatch, never indulging in anthropomorphism. Even as readers follow the protagonist's story, they will learn about the delicate ecosystem of the salinas (salty lakes formed by evaporation) and the ways human activities can affect flamingos. With her text, Guiberson has done her usual efficient job of giving young readers an insiders' view of a very alien way of life; for the first time, however, she provides the accompanying illustrations, with somewhat mixed results. While some compositions are inspired (the fledgling flamingo splashes down awkwardly after his first flight), others, if competent, are fairly prosaic, adding little to the words. The strength and specificity of the text justifies the whole; one hopes in subsequent works the illustrations will rise to the occasion. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
RAIN, RAIN, RAINFOREST by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: May 1, 2004

Guiberson, one of the best science writers around for younger readers, trails a tree sloth as, between one deluge and the next, it makes its sloooooow way down to the ground for an infrequent toilette, then returns to the rain-forest canopy. Meanwhile, all sorts of other local residents pass in review, from the moths and other insects dwelling in the sloth's fur, to tree frogs, howler monkeys, and, for one scary swoop, a harpy eagle. With typically inventive use of texture and paint, Jenkins's paper collages depict the creatures, ants to a visiting scientist collecting specimens of medicinal plants, in simplified but realistic natural settings. Vicarious visits to rain forests abound, but this vivid, engrossing slice of life makes a worthy companion or replacement for such essential titles as Madeleine Dunphy's Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest (1994) or Kathryn Lasky's Most Beautiful Roof in the World (1997). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
THE EMPEROR LAYS AN EGG by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Dec. 1, 2001

Pity the poor papa penguin as he perseveres in protecting his precious progeny. He has to care for the emperor penguin egg by himself through two months of windy winter weather ("Screech, whoooo!") while the mother penguin is off searching for food. Guiberson (Tales of the Haunted Deep, 2000, etc.) has crafted a nonfiction narrative that imparts general information about the birth cycle of emperor penguins in combination with the more engaging story of a specific mother and father penguin caring for their own egg and the resulting chick. This gives more dramatic impact to the text, but is a little confusing at times with intertwined discussions of both the larger penguin group and references to the father and mother. Interesting factoids and interspersed parenthetical references to penguin sounds or movements ("Waddle, waddle") add extra punch to the text. Paley's (Little White Duck, 2000, etc.) stellar watercolor collage illustrations in vibrant double-page spreads steal the show, with midnight blue skies, downy gray penguin chicks, and graphically striking adult penguins. Although The Emperor's Egg, by Martin Jenkins (1999), covers similar territory, school and public libraries will find this title useful for elementary school science reports, and nature lovers will love the pictures. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)Read full book review >
TALES OF THE HAUNTED DEEP by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: June 1, 2000

Guiberson (Spotted Owl, 1994, etc.) ventures into Daniel Cohen territory with these riveting, if briefly told, tales of lesser-known ghosts, sea monsters, and haunted pirate treasure. She relates the lurid details with relish: "Blackbeard's head was cut off and hung from the bowsprit. . . . The headless body was thrown into the sea [whereupon it] swam one time, two times, then three times around the sloop before sinking into the deep." The author intersperses photos, old prints, and her own evocative black-and-white vignettes, and finishes with five spooky scenarios suitable for developing into new tales of terror. Perfect fare for reading by flashlight. (index, extensive bibliography) (Folklore. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1994

Guiberson (Salmon Story, 1993, etc.) gives a fine account of the plight of the spotted owl and the ancient forest, as well as that of the loggers and their communities. In fact, while she spends more time on the owl than the logger, she never quite convinces her reader that preserving the owl is necessary—probably because she takes it for granted that the bias will be in the owl's favor. Still, she successfully explains why the ancient forests are necessary to the survival of the owl; why the owl's situation was not noted until fairly recently (their camouflage and nocturnal habits contributed to this); and how environmentalists and local artisans are working to preserve both the owl and environmentally responsible industry. This is a well-balanced look at the controversy surrounding conservation attempts, perhaps even more balanced than Guiberson intends. (Illustrations, not seen) (Nonfiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
SALMON STORY by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

In the Redfeather series, an easily read yet detailed discussion of the Pacific Northwest's salmon. Guiberson, whose picture-book nonfiction (Cactus Hotel, 1991; Spoonbill Swamp, 1992) has been very well received, uses short, simple (but not simplistic) sentences to describe the salmon's life cycle; its place in the ecosystem and in Native-American culture; the disastrous effects of changes to its environment since the 19th century; efforts to rescue the salmon (limiting catches, building ``ladders'' around dams, correcting erosion, changing farming patterns, etc.); and related research. A few handsome color photos brighten up a text that's also supported by numerous other illustrations, including useful diagrams. A well organized, informative book that reaches beyond its own subject by modeling the kind of thought and inquiry appropriate to any environmental- -or, indeed, scientific—topic. Bibliography (lengthy, serious, and varied); index. (Nonfiction. 7-12) Read full book review >
LOBSTER BOAT by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: April 1, 1993

Moving on from the wildlife in Cactus Hotel (1991) and Spoonbill Swamp (1992), Guiberson and Lloyd depict a day of lobstering on the Maine coast. Despite morning fog and a storm brewing, Tommy and his uncle set out in their small craft to check and rebait their traps, keeping only the male catch of the right size and making it back to port after the storm hits. There, ``the bad news is that the catch is high everywhere and the price is down.'' Guiberson works in the salient facts for an informative look at this demanding, fascinating occupation, amplified in a concluding note. Lloyd's evocative art is lovely, capturing water and sky in misty watercolors while focusing more specific pen lines on the lobsters, the people, and the tools of their trade. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
SPOONBILL SWAMP by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: March 30, 1992

Like Lewin's When the Rivers Go Home (below), an evocation of the creatures of a tropical swamp. Here, the team that created Cactus Hotel (1991) focuses on two mothers, a spoonbill and an alligator, each caring for her young during a day that includes a mildly dramatic encounter when the alligator doesn't quite catch the spoonbill. Lloyd depicts the animals in lucid detail and their surroundings, more impressionistically, in unrealistically vibrant but appealing colors. A note extends the information, but is vague about the animals' range. Though this doesn't have the artistry of Lewin's book, it's visually pleasing and includes more information about these particular species. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
INSTANT SOUP by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Sept. 30, 1991

In her second juvenile novel, Guiberson introduces a seventh grader who learns a lot about herself in three challenging days. Darlene's plans for winter vacation are ruined: she must baby-sit Gerry, her four-year-old nephew, while her mother and aunt take a three-day business trip. Moreover, her father gets the flu, Gerry's gecko disappears, and her best friend is tempted to the mall by newer, more glamorous friends. During the ensuing 72 hours, Darlene—who has been impatiently waiting for exciting things to happen to her—discovers that making things happen by taking charge and solving problems can be an exhilarating, validating experience. Guiberson pays careful attention to everyday minutiae and has a good feel for her setting and characters. Unfortunately, a flat style and ineffective pacing slow her unfocused story. Still, the growth of her heroine makes this worthwhile, if unexceptional. (Fiction. 8-12)*justify no* Read full book review >
CACTUS HOTEL by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: May 1, 1991

On the same level and covering the same ground as Bash's Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus (1989), another clear, well-illustrated look at this pivotal contributor to the ecology of the Southwest. Bash's volume is a bit handsomer and includes the uses of the saguaro by Native Americans; but Lloyd's attractive illustrations are more finely detailed. A good second resource. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
TURTLE PEOPLE by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: Oct. 30, 1990

Richie, a boy who lives on the Snake River, discovers a rare artifact that he believes will solve all his problems: a turtle-like carved stone bowl that he's sure will bring his dad, who loves relics, back to live with the family. His mom has grown distant, learning what his little sister calls "memos" on yellow slips as virtually her only communication. Richie and his erudite friend Henny, scheming to recover the bowl from the island where it was found, enlist the help of an old geezer who knows about Indian culture. Richie fantasizes that the bowl came from an imaginary tribe, the Turtle People, who had an accepting, turtle-like outlook, and equates his father with a turtle who avoids problems by retreating into his shell; finally, he comes to see that challenges must be met, not ignored. When Dad returns, the outcome is less than satisfactory: the parents' characters are not well enough realized for the reader to understand their decision to reverse roles. Though Guiberson touches on the legal aspects of acquiring such artifacts, Richie eventually gets to keep the bowl. A mild adventure that leaves some strings untied. Read full book review >