An obvious choice for animal-focused storytimes, but it’s no match for the baby animal titles by wildlife photographer Suzi...

BABY PANDA CHEWS BAMBOO

From the First Discoveries series

A panda cub’s childhood documented with photographs and a simple text.

This latest addition to the First Discoveries series from the American Museum of Natural History offers irresistible images of young panda cubs, from the helpless, pinkish newborn to independence a few months after the first birthday. Like earlier series titles about penguins, wolves, and dolphins, this is essentially an album of photographs culled from varied sources and strung together in a chronological text that follows the animal as it grows up. Each double-page spread has one or several photographs, accompanied by a paragraph or two of relatively simple text describing the cub’s behavior—in particular, its feeding habits. Readers and listeners will come away with important information about pandas, but it is the close-up photographs that steal the show. Although the animals pictured are likely different, they look alike; readers will probably assume they are following a single animal’s journey, especially since information about the images is limited to a list of credits on the copyright page. The book concludes with a message from “the expert,” Angelo Soto-Centeno, a bat specialist at the museum.

An obvious choice for animal-focused storytimes, but it’s no match for the baby animal titles by wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, which do focus on specific animals. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2740-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.

WOLF PUPS JOIN THE PACK

From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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