Like its subject, a wonder to behold.

READ REVIEW

HONEYBEE

THE BUSY LIFE OF APIS MELLIFERA

As they did in Giant Squid (2016), Fleming and Rohmann give readers a deep dive into the biology of a creature so alien from humans it’s hard to imagine we all live on the same planet.

The long, free-verse poem begins to unfold in the frontmatter when the protagonist emerges from the wax cell that protected her during metamorphosis “into… / a teeming, trembling flurry. / Hummmmm!” Naming her subject Apis for her genus, Fleming describes in meticulous detail many of the myriad roles a worker honeybee plays in the colony, from cell preparation through nursing, queen tending, comb building, nectar receiving, honey curing, guarding, and scouting to, finally, foraging. She maintains narrative tension through artfully deployed delayed gratification, ending each topical spread by hinting that Apis’ “new job” might involve “flying?” only to reveal a different nest-bound activity for Apis with a page turn. Rohmann rises to the challenge of a story set mostly in dark, confined quarters and a limited palette of black, brown, and honey yellow with stunning views of Apis and her sisters, each tiny hair and segment lovingly delineated. Neither text nor illustrations anthropomorphize their subject; Apis never complains. But an astonishing double gatefold depicts her finally flying over a field of purple and yellow wildflowers into an endless blue sky, liberating bee, creators, and readers alike. Several pages of backmatter offer further information about honeybees, online resources, and child-appropriate books.

Like its subject, a wonder to behold. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4285-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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