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A visually appealing, informative peek at some of nature’s rare treasures, with a strong ecological subtext.

An introduction to eight blue and very rare wildlife species.

This highly unusual field guide for kids focuses on the “blueness” as well as the ecological rarity of each featured species. Karner blue butterflies are “silvery blue”; mating male Quitobaquito pupfish turn “iridescent blue”; eastern indigo snakes have “midnight blue” scales; blue whales appear “turquoise blue” underwater; male cerulean warblers boast “electric blue” feathers; an occasional lobster trapped in North Atlantic coastal waters is “sapphire blue;” the coats of some Alaskan black bears look “pearly blue”; and the big bluestem prairie grass formerly covering much of central North America manifests as “steely blue.” In terms of rarity, the text mentions ecological factors causing Karner blue butterflies, Quitobaquito pupfish, eastern indigo snakes, blue whales, and big bluestem prairie grass to be officially listed as endangered while cerulean warblers are considered a “species of concern.” In contrast, blue lobsters and blue black bears are “naturally rare” rather than threatened. Delicate, realistic illustrations steal this show with splendid double-page paintings of the natural habitats and close-up portraits of each species discussed. Arresting perspectives add interest while use of a full-spectrum blue palette appropriately reinforces the blue theme, including endpapers featuring each subject washed in blue. Additional facts on each species, a glossary of terms, categories of species, and a selected bibliography flesh out the text for further study or discussion.

A visually appealing, informative peek at some of nature’s rare treasures, with a strong ecological subtext. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-097-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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

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