An object lesson in less is more.

PENGUIN JOURNEY

Spare words and images illustrate the creation of a penguin family for readers of all ages.

With a dramatic moonlit image and just seven well-chosen words (“Packed snow. / Moon glow. / Windblown. // All alone”), the book pulls readers into the icy and isolated polar life of a lone emperor penguin. Luckily, other penguins soon pop out of the ocean and onto the ice to begin the annual mating process. “Swing, sway. / Call, play. // Beaks in air. / Now a pair.” Words and images celebrate the Antarctic setting, the perfectly adapted penguins (“Waves glitter. / Flippers flitter”; “Mamas stand, / edge of land. // Into sea, diving free”—complete with bubble trails for each dive), and the joint efforts of mother and father penguin to raise their chick. The critical transfer of the pair’s sole egg from the mother’s feet to the father’s is described with stunning simplicity: “Feet kiss. Near miss.” Perfect for group storytime and discussion, rhyming phrases with just one to four words dramatically summarize each step in the mating (no penguin sex depicted) and parenting process. The familiar black and white of emperor penguins contrast well with the scenes of rich winter blues of Antarctic ice, sea, and sky and, later, the warm pastels of the spring skies as time passes, the temperatures warm, and the penguin family unit basks in their success: “No matter the weather, / a family together.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An object lesson in less is more. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4589-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.

SHARKBLOCK

From the Block Books series

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

MOMMIES ARE AMAZING

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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