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From the Farm Animal Series series

An interesting, absorbing browser.

Aspirationally encyclopedic, this survey covers the pig’s evolution, domestication, characteristics, adaptations, importance as a global food source, appearances in myth, and more.

Bird selects fresh facts. Pigs are resistant to snake venom. They’re as smart as dogs and capable of episodic memory—the ability to learn from past experiences. She’s forthcoming about scatological and reproductive attributes, too: Across cultures, the omnivorous pig has played a role as a household waste recycler, including of excrement. A “Facts of Life” section includes details about mating behaviors, the shape of a boar’s penis, and piglets’ growth stages. The rectum and anus figure in an anatomical illustration; Bird asserts that a “full-grown hog will produce six and a half pounds of manure a day.” She cheerfully addresses young readers: “Here’s a fact that may surprise you: pigs can swim!” Several spreads reveal the international array of meat products derived from the pig. “Everything but the Squeal” examines how collagen, bristles, skin, and even heart valves are utilized in industrial production and medicine. Pintonato’s illustrations vacillate between realistic details and fanciful tableaux. In an anthropomorphized spread about pig illnesses, several hospital beds contain pigs attended by health care workers. Additional sections include pigs in pop culture and as pets; thumbnails highlight 20 of the species’s more than 500 breeds. A table of contents is of marginal utility; the project entirely lacks indexing, documentation, or readers’ resources.

An interesting, absorbing browser. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61689-989-9

Page Count: 76

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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