Biome rudiments with more style than substance.

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BEASTLY BIOMES

Earth’s five main biomes—aquatic, forest, grassland, desert, and tundra—are further broken down into subgroups, each with collages depicting that group and some of its animals.

This is a fitting companion piece to Allen-Fletcher’s Animal Antipodes (2018), but, unlike its sibling, it works better as a primary-grade reference book than a one-time read. Each double-page spread has a short paragraph that offers a few facts, such as, “Deciduous forests are found in cooler, rainy areas.” The remainder of each page consists of one-sentence descriptions under all-caps labels near each of the stylized creatures traversing the habitat. Readers will enjoy additions to familiar names—Shiho’s sea horses, curled octopuses—and less-common names, such as wobbegongs and axolotls. There is also pleasant variety in the one-apiece verb for each animal: “Musk oxen graze”; “Adelie penguins huddle.” The layout and the vibrant artwork do not disappoint, and care was taken to include varied countries and continents. The plains biome, for example, includes animals from grasslands in China, Russia, Africa, New Zealand, and North and South America. However, each double-page spread is essentially a beautifully illustrated list of animals in a scantily explained habitat. Children who love animals and love learning new names of animals will enjoy perusing the pages, but anyone craving depth will want to extend their exploration to other, meatier resources.

Biome rudiments with more style than substance. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939547-54-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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