Wilam, home, takes many forms for a plethora of animals in this striking Aboriginal story.

BIRRARUNG WILAM

A STORY FROM ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA

A gentle, descriptive portrait of a lush and well-loved land.

Created by Joy Murphy Wandin Ao, Senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri people of the Melbourne area, in collaboration with Kelly and Kennedy, also of the area, this #ownvoices picture book is one of a kind. Beginning with carefully painted endpapers that feature patterned stones and platypuses at the front and fish in waves at the back, the story follows the Birrarung (Yarra River) as it weaves its way from creeks to rivers, verdant bush undergrowth to valley pines beneath a pale blue sky, farmland to city. Animals identified with their Woiwurrung names are described in their various habitats: warin (wombat), marram (gray kangaroo), wallert (possum), waa (raven), and many others. Each layered spread features life of all forms—human, flora, and fauna—portrayed in a dynamic, vivid style. Intricate dot- and line-based art punctuates the lush illustrations drenched in vibrant greens, earthy browns, and watery blues, immersing readers in Aboriginal art. Extensive backmatter features a spread-by-spread glossary of Woiwurrung words used in the book accompanied by a reminder that “The Woiwurrung language does not translate directly into English.” This text perfectly captures the intersection of culture and science, making this an excellent text for an elementary-level unit on animal habitats, artistic portrayals, and cultural depictions of ecology.

Wilam, home, takes many forms for a plethora of animals in this striking Aboriginal story. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0942-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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

HELLO AUTUMN!

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 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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