Fun and surprisingly successful as an invitation to look closely at the natural world.


From 10 black-capped chickadees to a single great horned owl, a countdown seek-and-find presents common birds.

Matheson imitates actual bird-watching with this deceptively simple “I spy”–type outing that goes from morning through night, through sun and shower, ending on the following day. Each spread contains birds (and sometimes other creatures) hidden among the kinds of trees and plants where North American readers with access to the wooded outdoors might find them in real life. It requires significant patience and persistence to find them all; the reward is a special surprise. The author opens with a “birding checklist,” invites readers to “go outside and look carefully,” and describes the chickadees as “your first treasure.” A short accompanying text uses generic names for the birds to look for and gives readers some clues. The birds pictured can be found in San Francisco, the home of the author, but because she has chosen widespread species, most readers from all over the continent will recognize most of them. Besides the chickadees and owl, she hides bluebirds, sparrows, wrens, robins, warblers, doves, and hummingbirds. Complete common names for the actual birds shown are given in an afterword, and for each she includes a short paragraph of other information about appearance and behavior as well as a suggestion for further resources. The author/illustrator used watercolor and collage for her carefully painted images, which are a good combination of reasonably realistic and satisfyingly challenging.

Fun and surprisingly successful as an invitation to look closely at the natural world. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-239340-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.


From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one.


From the My First series

Kitten care presented early-reader style.

“Something soft and furry / Is coming home with me. // It is my new kitten. / She is as sweet as can be!” First-person, easy-reading text describes meeting the kitten, feeding the kitten, playing with the kitten, then taking it to the vet and keeping it safe. The first half of this volume is presented in rhyme with Wachter's photos of real children of various races and their kittens (always the same kitten-and-child pairings) imposed on simple cartoon backgrounds. On other pages, photos of kittens (all cute as the dickens) leaping, scratching, running, and sleeping appear against similar backgrounds. The second half reiterates the same information but in more detail. It passes on instructions in simple language for tasks like introducing a kitten to its litter box and interpreting the sounds and body language of your new furry friend. Jumping the species barrier, Biscuit creator Capucilli does a fine job of instructing young, new pet owners in the care of their wee feline friends in this companion to My First Puppy (2019). This helpful guidebook ends with a message encouraging aspiring young pet friends to adopt from shelters. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85.7% of actual size.)

Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7754-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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