Familiarity breeds appreciation.

READ REVIEW

DRAGONFLY

A dual-level text set against a background of colorful, posterlike art introduces readers to the lives of dragonflies.

The art on the initial double-page spread—indeed on all—is dramatic and eye-catching. This one shows a large dragonfly whose golden-and-blue body stretches across the gutter, with a background of green and blue foliage against pink-hued panels. Large, bold text declares: “We’ve been here three hundred million years. We are small now, but back then our wings spread more than 2 feet across. And we ruled the sky.” As with all ensuing spreads but the last, this first-person text—ostensibly narrated by English-speaking dragonflies—is followed by text in a smaller font, more informative and sophisticated, and related in the third person. The dragonflies’ commentary, along with bold imagery, will keep younger naturalists from squirming; reading the additional text is recommended for ages 6 and older. Along with more concepts than the simpler text offers—such as cannibalism among dragonflies in the nymph stage and the importance of external heat to these coldblooded creatures—the additional text uses, usually defining, more-advanced vocabulary words such as “species,” “molting,” “intercept,” and “iridescent.” One unusual word—“naiad”—and its literal definition (“of the water”) does appear early on in the simpler text; its reappearance later provides a comforting appreciation of life cycles.

Familiarity breeds appreciation. (author’s note, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5821-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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