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Readers who have never thought of it before will agree: “Take care of your skull, because you only get one.” (Informational...

A celebration of that thing everyone has to hold eyes, nose, and teeth in place.

Thornburgh urges readers to appreciate their skulls, which are not only “safe and snug, like a car seat for your brain,” but come with convenient holes for seeing, hearing, and chowing down on grilled-cheese sandwiches. Even without noses (which are “more of a cartilage thing”), skulls also give faces a good shape and, despite what some people think, really aren’t trying to be scary. Campbell’s cartoon illustrations feature racially diverse humans, animals, or crowds whose heads switch back and forth between smiling flesh and X-ray views with the turn of a page. Assurances notwithstanding, they tend to undermine that last claim—at least at first. Still, any initial startlement should soon give way to a willingness to echo the author’s “I love my skull!” A page of “Cool Skull Facts!” opposite a final, fairly anatomically correct image gives this good odds of becoming a STEM and storytime favorite. 

Readers who have never thought of it before will agree: “Take care of your skull, because you only get one.” (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1400-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A mixed bag.

An alphabetical tour of emotions.

This British import mixes words that many young kids will know, such as brave, kind, and mad (the last defined in the American sense, as angry), with less-familiar ones such as overwhelmed and vulnerable. It even features at least one word that may be new to adults: “X is for Xenial….Xenial is being welcoming to strangers.” Compounding the difficulty here, the visual image of a Black kid dressed as a magician hugging a rabbit they’ve pulled out of a hat does not exactly illustrate xeniality (xenialness?). Other illustrations do a better job of helping readers understand the words being introduced. The illustrations feature racially diverse children and are usually paired in each double-page spread: “A is for Anxious. Anxious is feeling really worried about something. / B is for Brave. Brave is being nervous about something and doing it anyway.” On the A page, a brown-skinned kid cowers from the dragon that encircles their bed, as in a nightmare. Across the gutter on the B page, the ferociously scowling child confronts the now-intimidated monster. Kids will get an immediate sense of those two words. Animals, real and imaginary, often play a role in the pictures. The book will be best shared one on one or in very small groups, when children can really spend time examining the pictures and talking about their own impression of what is happening in each picture. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A mixed bag. (word list) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20519-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An ideal lead-in to more specific guides to aquarium setup and fish care.

A first introduction to our planet’s finny residents, particularly the decidedly uncommon goldfish.

Preceded by an entire piscatorial ABC that extends over six pages, two children of color lecture an audience of house pets (and readers) about such typical fishy features as scales and gills—properly noting that some fish, like certain eels, have no scales and some, like hagfish, no bony spines. The two then zero in on goldfish, explaining that they are easier to keep at home than tropical fish, originated long ago in China, can recognize the faces of people who bring them food, and with proper care live 25 years. All of this information is presented in a mix of dialogue balloons and single lines of commentary in block letters, accompanying cleanly drawn cartoon illustrations that alternate between a domestic setting and labeled portraits of various fish rendered in fine, exact detail. With easily digestible doses of biological and historical background, common-sense cautionary notes, and a buoyant tone, this is an appealing dive for newly independent readers out to enhance the household menagerie.

An ideal lead-in to more specific guides to aquarium setup and fish care. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943145-15-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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