Wondrous and wonderful, for reading and thinking and sharing.

A celebration of transitions in the animal world.

The late April Pulley Sayre documents the in-between moments of animal lives in this posthumously published poem and photo album co-authored by her husband, Jeff. In words and pictures, they demonstrate preparations, waiting, anticipation, even some trepidation—animal experiences that their human readers will surely share. Ground squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons peek out from hiding places. There are takeoffs, flights, and landings featuring a chickadee, a robin, a blue jay, a red-tailed hawk, a wood stork, flamingos, and a whale leaping from the water. Some images show animals in families: robins in a nest, squirrels, Canada geese, two groundhogs. Many depict young animals, not quite prepared to go out in the world, “awkward,” “unsteady,” “almost ready.” A green darner dragonfly still perched on its previous nymph form—“body transformed, / but not yet gliding.” The close-up images are crisp and clear, the word choice is precise, and the poem flows smoothly—April Pulley Sayre has a well-deserved reputation for combining visuals and text to encourage a child’s awe at the natural world, and this exemplary work is a shining example. The animals are not identified, but most will be familiar to young American readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Wondrous and wonderful, for reading and thinking and sharing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8781-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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