Definitely deserves a spot, even on a well-stocked panda shelf.

BEI BEI GOES HOME

A PANDA STORY

In the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., a panda cub grows up.

Bardoe documents the early life of Bei Bei, one of the National Zoo’s most recent panda cubs, from a tiny ultrasound shadow in his mother’s womb to a bamboo grove in a Conservation and Research Center in Sichuan, China. Liberally illustrated with Smithsonian Institution images, this photobiography takes a close-up, intimate look at a panda in captivity. Like pandas in zoos all over the world, those born in Washington are officially Chinese; at the age of 4, they return to China to be part of an effort to promote panda recovery in the wild there. In the meantime, these charismatic animals draw flocks of visitors, in person and online. Bardoe’s thoughtfully crafted presentation chronicles important events in Bei Bei’s first four years with a headline and one to two paragraphs of text alongside a column of panda facts. Opposite each page of text is a page of photos (or, sometimes, a single, full-bleed image) with informative captions. The straightforward text is sprinkled with images as well. The pictures and information are well chosen for child appeal. The result is a title that will probably have considerable charm even to nonreaders. Final pages discuss pandas in the wild, their attraction for humans, and ways readers can help.

Definitely deserves a spot, even on a well-stocked panda shelf. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1763-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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