LIVING FOSSILS

CLUES TO THE PAST

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

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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

A HORSE NAMED SKY

A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape.

In mid-19th-century Nevada, a colt named Sky grows up to lead his band of wild horses.

Parry’s moving story follows the pattern of her recent animal tales, A Wolf Called Wander (2019) and A Whale of the Wild (2020), chronicling a wild animal’s life in the first person, imagining its point of view, and detailing and appreciating the natural world it inhabits. As Sky grows from wobbly newborn to leader of his family, he faces more than the usual challenges for colts who must fight their stallions or leave their herds when they are grown up. Fagan’s appealing black-and-white illustrations help readers envision this survival story. Sky’s adventures include forced service with the Pony Express; being befriended by an enslaved Paiute boy; escaping to find his now-captured band; and helping them escape the silver miners who’d destroyed their world. Animal lovers will applaud his ingenuity and stubbornness. Although Sky’s band has suffered serious injuries (his mother is blind), he and Storm, a mare who was his childhood companion, lead them toward safety in a new wilderness. The writer’s admiration for these wild horses and her concerns about human destruction of their environment come through even more clearly in a series of concluding expository essays discussing the wild horses, the Indigenous Americans, the natural history of the Great Basin, silver mining, and the Pony Express.

A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780062995957

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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