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THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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OVER AND UNDER THE WAVES

From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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IF POLAR BEARS DISAPPEARED

From the If Animals Disappeared series

A solid addition to the climate-change canon for those interested in saving a fragile world.

Dire consequences attend the unchecked melting of Arctic sea ice.

The more the ice melts, the more the Arctic climate changes. The more that air and ground temperatures rise, the more the frozen ecosystem’s inhabitants, including plants and insects, suffer from dwindling habitats; threats to food sources; and imbalances in feeding, breeding, and migration patterns. Solid information is packed into this brief work that lucidly raises the alarm for young readers, with each spread capturing the thrilling, chilling north in rich, dramatic blue swathes of seawater set off by icy glaciers and snowdrifts. Child-friendly, occasionally cluttered paintings, some with labels, highlight polar bears and their Arctic neighbors; a spread of vignettes illustrates how changes to plant life affect wildlife. One labeled spread explains all: As seawater warms, it absorbs sunlight, thus heating more water and melting more ice. One poignant spread depicts a bewildered polar bear mom, eyeing readers and flanked by her twin cubs, drifting on a shrinking ice floe. Two human children, one brown-skinned and one pale, occasionally appear in the illustrations as well. The book ends on a hopeful note, reassuring youngsters that “we still have time to save polar bears and slow the loss of Arctic ice.” A note in the backmatter offers conservation tips.

A solid addition to the climate-change canon for those interested in saving a fragile world. (author’s note, bibliography, additional sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14319-8

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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