Wonderfully odd and cleverly informative.

THE QUEEN'S SHADOW

A STORY ABOUT HOW ANIMALS SEE

When a queen, looking severe in her ball gown, suddenly misses her shadow at her own ball, the visual capabilities of her guests are put to the test in this mystery infused with natural science.

The Royal Detective, a mantis shrimp, confronts each guest to determine which might have taken advantage of the chaos following a thunderclap and momentary loss of light to steal the shadow. Each—chameleon, shark, snake, goat, dragonfly, colossal squid, pigeon—has an alibi, however: His or her attention and sight were focused elsewhere during the moments in question. By the time two young (sea) urchins provide the amusing solution, readers will have encountered multiple definitions of sight. Double-page, digitally worked pen-and-ink illustrations offer a look at the scene from each guest’s perspective and provide visual explanations for unique ways of seeing. Areas of light and dark, perspectives from above and the side, washed-out and saturated color are used to reveal the scope and limits of specific types of sight. Inset text boxes provide descriptions of how sight works for each creature. The slightly formal prose and zany details and dialogue accentuate the silliness of the narrative. Backmatter includes an overview of the mechanics of sight in humans, more about each animal and a glossary; there is no resource list.

Wonderfully odd and cleverly informative. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-894786-60-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

Did you like this book?

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more