An appealing first look.

READ REVIEW

THIS IS A SEA COW

The manatee subject of a school report objects so strongly to being compared to a cow that she barges in to correct the writer.

This engaging account is disguised as a homework assignment on marine mammals. Federman’s report is written by hand, in pencil, on lined paper, but the manatee in her crayon illustrations comes to life, commenting on the text in speech bubbles that contain large, legible type. She’s not a cow. She’s sure she’s not related to an elephant but is quite taken with being seen as a mermaid. Various interesting facts are conveyed in the process, and there are more (from the manatee) in an afterword. Federman’s manatee is basically a shmoo-shaped blue blob with eyes, an expressive snout and mouth, and a tail instead of legs, but in the frontmatter, there’s a more realistic diagram, a portion of a photograph, and a portion of a map of the Florida coast and Belize, both places where West Indian manatees can be found. Digitally collaged art combines the paper of the report with photos of pencils and crayons to emulate a student’s workspace. Finally, there’s a mention of manatee adoption programs for readers who have also decided the manatee is their “new favorite animal.” Pair with titles by Jim Arnosky—A Manatee Morning (2000), All about Manatees (2008), or Slow Down for Manatees, (2010)—for a more detailed picture.

An appealing first look. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7874-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A whimsical introduction to an unusual mammal.

I AM NOT A PENGUIN

A PANGOLIN'S LAMENT

Most children will not be familiar with pangolins, scaly mammals native to Asia and Africa.

But neither are the animal characters who mix up the pangolin with many other animals. A talkative pangolin introduces his species with a poster. The animals, illustrated in a stylized but realistic manner, seem thoroughly confused by this new creature. In the dryly witty text, the pangolin describes his various attributes but is constantly interrupted by other animals mistaking him for a creature that’s similar in some way. When the pangolin describes curling up into a ball to protect himself, the skunk says: “Oh, I get it! He’s an armadillo.” When penguins are remarked on, the pangolin grows extremely testy. “I AM CERTAINLY NOT A PENGUIN! I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT PENGUINS! THERE ARE NO PENGUINS HERE! ZERO PENGUINS! NOT. ONE. PENGUIN!” And who should stroll in but a surfer penguin, wearing cool sunglasses and leading the pangolin’s audience to the beach. The crestfallen pangolin starts to cancel the presentation, but then a small Asian-presenting child shows up to listen, explaining, “I’m just a kid”—to which the pangolin responds with puzzlement: “Huh. Like a goat?” The pangolin shows sheet after informational sheet to an enthralled audience of one, quiet humor giving way to a small torrent of facts written on mock presentation paper. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

A whimsical introduction to an unusual mammal. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12740-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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