Readers looking to strengthen their elementary Spanish or English vocabulary will appreciate this collection.

Inspired by a camping trip to California’s Yuba River, mother-daughter duo Ada and Zubizarreta-Ada team up for a bilingual picture-book collection of poetry covering the ABCs of nature.

A collection of 29 poems—each one standing for a letter in the Spanish alphabet—takes readers on a nature-filled journey punctuated by glimpses of butterflies, hummingbirds, frogs, the Milky Way, pebbles, and more. For every Spanish poem there is a corresponding English translation. While the English alphabet consists of a solid 26 letters, Spanish has a few more, and through clever strategies, the co-authors incorporate most of them. For instance, “Niña de la trusa azul” is the vehicle for the letter “ñ” while the italicized English word in “Ventana o window” stands for the letter “w.” Like “ñ,” “rr” occurs in the middle of words; however, it does not get a poem. Every letter brings readers to a setting along the Yuba: evening campfires, cicadas chirping, toes dipped in water, a boulder island, forest, and sunsets. In Spanish, the poetry carries a lovely, lyrical, smooth, fluid, and rhythmic cadence; and on occasion the English pacing does not measure up. Utomo’s watercolors lend a dreamy quality to the warm browns and greens; readers will feel the sun’s warmth and hear the rippling waters.

Readers looking to strengthen their elementary Spanish or English vocabulary will appreciate this collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8 )

Pub Date: May 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55885-899-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

Close Quickview