Informative, empowering, and gorgeous

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 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019


Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude.

A deceptively simple, visually appealing, comprehensive explanation of volcanoes.

Gibbons packs an impressive number of facts into this browsable nonfiction picture book. The text begins with the awe of a volcanic eruption: “The ground begins to rumble…ash, hot lava and rock, and gases shoot up into the air.” Diagrams of the Earth’s structural layers—inner and outer core, mantle, and crust—undergird a discussion about why volcanoes occur. Simple maps of the Earth’s seven major tectonic plates show where volcanoes are likeliest to develop. Other spreads with bright, clearly labeled illustrations cover intriguing subtopics: four types of volcanoes and how they erupt; underwater volcanoes; well-known volcanoes and historic volcanic eruptions around the world; how to be safe in the vicinity of a volcano; and the work of scientists studying volcanoes and helping to predict eruptions. A page of eight facts about volcanoes wraps things up. The straightforward, concise prose will be easy for young readers to follow. As always, Gibbons manages to present a great deal of information in a compact form.

Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude. (Nonfiction picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4569-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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