School and public libraries whose copies of James Martin’s Living Fossils (1997) have worn out will welcome this inviting...

LIVING FOSSILS

CLUES TO THE PAST

Six creatures whose essential appearances haven’t changed in millions of years provide an introduction to the idea of “living fossils.”

Scientist Charles Darwin introduced this phrase in 1859, and, though it’s not scientifically accurate, it’s a popular way to refer to animals that seem to have retained ancient features. Some have even reappeared, alive, after having disappeared in the fossil record. Arnold illustrates this with intriguing examples: coelacanths, horseshoe crabs, dragonflies, tuatara, chambered nautiluses, and Hula painted frogs. Her choices range widely across the animal kingdom and come from around the world. After introducing the concept with the coelacanth, she presents the other five, each with two double-page spreads: then and now. An accompanying narrative describes major features, when and where the species can be found, something about its behavior, and, usually, some natural threats. Further facts appear in the backmatter. The pleasing design offers a clear image of the animal stretching across the fold to a column of text. Inset boxes detail adaptations that have allowed each animal to survive. (In the case of the extremely endangered frog, the question becomes “Will They Survive?”) Plant’s realistic acrylic paintings show his subjects in their natural habitats and, sometimes, as fossils.

School and public libraries whose copies of James Martin’s Living Fossils (1997) have worn out will welcome this inviting new look at a popular subject, as will kids with an interest in paleontology and evolution. (timeline, glossary, resources) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-691-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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DONUTS AND DANGER

From the Max Meow series , Vol. 2

Max and Mindy are back in action and must face old foes and nefarious new look-alikes.

Max Meow, feline resident of Kittyopolis, is secretly the superhero Cat Crusader, and he’s excited to no longer work solo. His BSFF (Best Science Friend Forever), brown-skinned human Mindy, has gained powers and created her own superhero persona, Science Kitty. Problem is, she puts so much pressure on herself to be perfect that she’s too scared to be a hero out in public. When havoc is wreaked at Food Fest, followed by a series of robberies, not only is the world of donut sales in peril, but the whole city is in danger. Old and new villains team up, and Cat Crusader will need Science Kitty’s skills—even if they are imperfect—in order to save the day and the donuts. This book tries to do a lot and isn’t always successful: An overabundance of plot points and characters makes it lack focus and overall cohesion. The more the story progresses, the messier and more jumbled it becomes, bogging down the pace. The lesson about the pitfalls of perfectionism does add some depth, and the brightly colored cartoon art plus the combination of silliness, science, and superpowers make this tale inviting. Fans of the first book may enjoy spending more time with these cool cats, but hopefully their next adventure will be smoother.

Overstuffed. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12108-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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