ANIMAL OLYMPICS

A limited but mildly stimulating gathering on a (possibly) timely theme.

Animal athletes compete for the gold.

In this unrelated but similarly conceived counterpart to Richard Turner’s Wildlife Winter Games, illustrated by Ben Clifford (2019), three disparate competitors line up to show their stuff in each of 12 events, from long jump (flea; grasshopper; kangaroo rat: “I can jump backward, too!”) to general climbing (gecko; gelada baboon; mountain goat). Brown supplies a few lines of basic facts about the capabilities of each entrant and awards the gold to one—often the smallest, as, for instance, rhinoceros beetles can lift many more times their body weight than elephants or gorillas, and a mantis shrimp’s punch is more powerful for its size than anything a brown hare or eastern gray kangaroo can deliver. In her tidy, stylized illustrations, Tanis doesn’t draw the animals to scale but does outfit them in athletic gear and garb on one side of each double-page spread to add a bit of fun and then shows them in natural settings on facing pages. Steer readers with a yen to continue the games to Martin Jenkins’ Animal Awards, illustrated by Tor Freeman (2019), which broadens the areas of competition beyond sports, and Mark Carwardine’s much more expansive Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records (2013).

A limited but mildly stimulating gathering on a (possibly) timely theme. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78240-987-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Ivy Kids

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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