Informative, empowering, and gorgeous

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SURVIVAL

Twenty endangered species from around the world are highlighted in this picture book allied with the African wildlife charity Tusk.

Despite the spare title and black endpapers, it’s not all doom and gloom in this large, square, gorgeously illustrated picture book. This effect is accomplished by matching McNaught’s stunning illustrations with Claybourne’s concise text—a combination that delivers both visual and textual information, leaving readers feeling knowledgeable and empowered. The book’s appealing and effective design presents double-page spreads with a full-page illustration on the recto and text on the verso. The illustration shows a finely wrought portrait of the animal or insect emerging from a bright, solid-colored background even as areas of background color fill in as negative space within the portrait—a technique that brilliantly underscores the evanescence of the species. Upward drips of paint visually connect the animal/insect to the greater world at large. The verso presents a silhouette of the world with icons pegging the areas the species inhabits and concisely relates its Latin name, status, population, size, habitat, and location. Below, further paragraphs tell readers why the animal or insect has declined in population (always human activity). But hearteningly, each section ends with the conservation efforts now being undertaken. The final page, “How You Can Help,” sets black text against a bright, visually optimistic yellow background and lists accessible activities readers can participate in to promote conservation.

Informative, empowering, and gorgeous . (Informational picture book. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9637-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet.

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WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS

In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice.

“Water is the first medicine,” a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. “We come from water.” Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators’ respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child’s narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a “black snake” will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. “Now the black snake is here,” the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren’t likely to be frightened due to Goade’s vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting “those who cannot fight for themselves” and understanding that on Earth, “we are all related.” Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom’s powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: “We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors.”

An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author’s note, glossary, illustrator’s note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20355-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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