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

SKULLS!

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A useful title on a kid-friendly topic.

AND THAT'S THE TOOTH

Guess each animal from facts about their teeth combined with hints about their behavior, location, or anatomy.

A large white speech bubble appears on each recto page, mostly obscuring a photo of an animal. A statement about that animal’s teeth (or lack thereof, in the cases of anteaters and humpback whales) is followed by a hint about the animal’s traits to facilitate guessing. For example, “You can tell how old I am by the growth rings on my teeth. I am… / Hint: I live in water and am smart and social.” Bits of animals visible around the speech bubble also offer some clues. Some kids may have the answer; many young children will not. The page turn reveals a full-page photo, the animal’s name (dolphin, in this case) in large type, and a callout box with facts about its dental characteristics: “Bottlenose dolphins only get one set of teeth for their entire lives. They use their teeth to catch their food, and then they swallow it whole.” The book matter-of-factly introduces information about 11 land and sea animals as well as a human representative, a young child with Asian features. Backmatter defines herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores along with a short guessing game about these categories and presents a diagram of the human mouth with descriptions of its teeth. The full-color stock photos vary in quality. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

A useful title on a kid-friendly topic. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64351-818-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Good for budding botanists who enjoy puns.

TREEMENDOUS

DIARY OF A NOT YET MIGHTY OAK

One oak narrates its own tale—with diary entries, illustrations, and diagrams—from its inception as an acorn to nearing the status of “mighty oak.”

From the start, the oak’s voice is perky and laden with wordplay, accompanied by colorful artwork that is best described as cutesy. The art dutifully complements the text: For example, the oak makes a joke about pines and Christmas decorations, and from that page on, smiling pine trees sport small, round red balls—evoking ornaments—and lots of pale-green ribbons tied into bows. The diary conceit allows readers to get an idea of how long it may take for each stage of an oak’s life, and the illustrations provide clear depictions of the parts that sprout from an acorn. Entries are written simply, but the text is on the lengthy side for an effective read-aloud, and it carries a fairly heavy informational load. There are concise explanations of photosynthesis, heartwood, and sapwood and a brief mention of trees’ value in fighting climate change, expressed in the oak’s typical manner: “Not to be sappy, but trees make the world a better place.” The corny but not unclever monologue would be easy to convert into a skit for children to perform—wearing costumes much more interesting than the book’s cartoony trees with their inked-on smiles and round, sometimes lashed eyes. One page shows a child and two adults in the background, all apparently White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64% of actual size.)

Good for budding botanists who enjoy puns. (timeline, further resources) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-57936-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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