Though low on frills, as solid an introduction for the age range as can be found in print.

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THE BEE BOOK

A comprehensive, elementary-level introduction to the honeybee.

In well-organized two-page chapters, Milner explores honeybee colony structure, reproduction, pollination, honey production, the importance of bees to food production, threats, and more. From a brief opening survey of different bee species to a concluding section on planting a pollinator-friendly garden, the facts are unfurled in a direct, unhurried manner. The author carefully pitches her presentation to her audience, often supplying leading questions (“How do bees make honey?”; “What is a swarm?”) as segues. She includes scientific and other specialized vocabulary (“stamen,” “larva,” “waggle dance,” “nurse bee”) naturally and with appropriate context to aid comprehension. Her bright, matte illustrations, dominated by honey yellows, are similarly unfussy, clearly communicating the desired information and offering the occasional challenge (spotting the queen in a swarm). Most humans depicted are white, save in the final spread. The factors contributing to bee-population decline are presented with suitable gravity and with concrete suggestions for readers to help mitigate them (building a “bee hotel”; planting wildflowers). While it’s too bad she uses the sensationalistic term “killer bee” and practicing beekeepers will smirk at the implication they are never stung, the presentation on the whole is both responsible and accurate.

Though low on frills, as solid an introduction for the age range as can be found in print. (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6553-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same; beware, though: leprechauns who aren’t caught often take revenge by making messes.

HOW TO BUILD A LEPRECHAUN TRAP

Devious young scientists, engineers, and crafters will be solidly occupied with the 16 traps, three snacks, and 10 leprechaun tricks that are described here.

Each project comes with a level of difficulty, leprechaun appeal meter, list of materials, its STEAM connection (in a separate box listing topics touched upon and extensions), and numbered steps. The STEAM connections vary widely. Too many of the early projects that involve a stick propping up a trap lid have the same STEAM connection. Later projects, including a Leprechaun Run and a Marshmallow Catapult that talk about potential and kinetic energy and a Marshmallow Bridge that is heavy on the engineering piece, have more solid STEAM connections. “Did You Know” featurettes offer fascinating facts: Ireland has more sheep than people, and leprechauns used to wear red, not green. Readers will know to call a grown-up when they see the words “adult supervision” underlined in the directions, which also include “messy alerts.” The artwork is a mix of photographs, line drawings, and cartoons. Only two completed projects are photographed; the rest are digital illustrations. While this allows kids scope for their imaginations, some may need more help with the steps than the cartoons provide (particularly with the catapult). Photos show an array of diverse children working on the projects, although the disembodied hand holding scissors shown frequently is always white.

St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same; beware, though: leprechauns who aren’t caught often take revenge by making messes. (Nonfiction. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6388-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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