Pair this with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s Flying Eagle, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray (2009), for more "nature red in...

AFTER THE KILL

When a lioness kills a zebra, the carcass becomes food not only for her pride but also for vultures, hyenas, jackals and, finally, meat-eating beetles that clean the skeleton, leaving it to turn to dust on Africa's Serengeti Plain.

The cover illustration summarizes the narrative: A lioness, mouth open and long canines visible, reaches out with large clawed paws; lion, jackal and hyena are close behind. A vulture perches on the title page. This is a realistic depiction of predation in the wild. Aimed at elementary-school readers, this title has none of the sweetness of the Smithsonian mammologist’s earlier works about bumblebee bats, meerkats and baby belugas. Lunde’s explicit description doesn’t mince words: “[T]he lioness rips the carcass open and feeds on the soft internal organs first.”  Informational paragraphs, set off in a different type, accompany the narrative, adding intriguing details about each species. These dual texts are set on full-bleed double-page paintings done in pencil, watercolor and gouache. The jumble of animals around the kill is realistic; yellows and browns of the sunlit Serengeti landscape and red of the blood predominate. The action in these paintings moves relentlessly forward until the last arrivals, the lappet-faced vultures and beetles, finish the job.

Pair this with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s Flying Eagle, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray (2009), for more "nature red in tooth and claw" science. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-743-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more.

LONG DISTANCE

After moving to a new city, a girl attends a wilderness camp to help her make new friends.

When astronomy-obsessed 9-year-old Vega’s dad Wes gets a new job, the family moves from Portland to Seattle. Vega is not happy about this change and doesn’t want to leave her best friend behind, worrying they will grow apart. Vega’s dad Javi thinks making new friends will help her adjust, so he signs her up for Camp Very Best Friend, which is designed to help introverted local children build new friendships. Vega is not exactly eager to go but makes a deal with Wes, agreeing to try out camp as long as he tries to make a new friend too. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary outdoor adventure, and Vega and her fellow campers try to figure out what is really going on. The story smoothly incorporates STEM facts with insets on the page to define and highlight terms or tools. An unexpected twist toward the end of this fast-paced adventure that reveals the truth behind the camp will surprise readers. The clean, bright artwork is enhanced by panels of varying shapes and clear, easy-to-follow speech bubbles. Race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are not explicitly addressed; characters’ names and physical appearances indicate a broadly diverse cast starting with brown-skinned Vega and her two dads.

A classic story of outsiders making friends—with a little something more. (Graphic fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5566-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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