Informative, empowering, and gorgeous

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 Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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