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HELLO, BABY BELUGA

Lunde and Wynne pair up for the third time (Meet the Meerkat, 2007, etc.), here acquainting the youngest animal lovers with facts about the beluga whale. As in their previous books, the author sticks to a question-and-answer format: “Baby Beluga, how do you live in the cold water? / I have a layer of fat to keep me warm. I breathe through a hole in the top of my head.” Basic questions about habitat, appearance, diet, adaptations and social behavior are answered in simple language well suited to both preschoolers and beginning readers. Back matter includes a few additional facts about belugas, including the fascinating tidbit that these whales are never fully asleep—parts of their brains take turns staying awake. While the trim size is not strikingly large, Wynne’s whales fill the right-hand pages, making them easy to share with a group. Appropriate for the audience, her illustrations are accurate, just detailed enough not to overwhelm, and her characters appear to be smiling throughout. Even the topic of predation is dealt with in a relatively nonthreatening way: “Baby Beluga, what do you fear? / I am afraid of orca whales and polar bears. They try to eat me.” While the artwork does show a crouching polar bear, it is a ways removed from the water and wears a neutral expression. A solid addition for the youngest naturalists. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-739-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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I'M A HARE, SO THERE!

Animated and educational.

A hare and a ground squirrel banter about the differences between related animals that are often confused for one another.

Jack is “no Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail,” but a “H-A-R-E, hare!” Like sheep and goats, or turtles and tortoises, rabbits and hares may look similar, but hares are bigger, their fur changes color in the winter, and they are born with their eyes wide open. As the ground squirrel (not to be mistaken for a chipmunk (even though Jack cheekily calls it “Chippie”) and Jack engage in playful discussion about animals, a sneaky coyote prowls after them through the Sonoran Desert. This picture book conveys the full narrative in spirited, speech-bubbled dialogue set on expressive illustrations of talking animals. Dark outlines around the characters make their shapes pop against the softly blended colors of the desert backgrounds. Snappy back-and-forth paired with repetition and occasional rhyme enhances the story’s appeal as a read-aloud. As the story progresses, the colors of the sky shift from dawn to dusk, providing subtle, visual bookends for the narrative. One page of backmatter offers a quick guide to eight easily confused pairs, and a second turns a subsequent exploration of the book into a seek-and-find of 15 creatures (and one dessert) hidden in the desert. Unfortunately, while most of the creatures from the seek-and-find appear in poses that match the illustrations in the challenge, not all of them are consistently represented. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 53.3% of actual size.)

Animated and educational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12506-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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