An appealing mix of lively poems, engrossing pictures, and smart bookmaking.

THE DIRT BOOK

POEMS ABOUT ANIMALS THAT LIVE BENEATH OUR FEET

Sixteen playful poems excavate soil and its symbiotic life-forms, targeting the subterranean habits of 12 animal species.

A tongue-in-cheek “Dirt Recipe” lists ingredients that serve “a host of hungry fungi / and at least a billion germs.” Some poems focus on how and what critters eat. The doodlebug’s earthen funnel can catch ants while the trapdoor spider’s ingenious hinged snare captures others. Harrison’s accessible verse frequently employs rhymed couplets: “A thousand ants, without a sound, / build a city underground.” Elsewhere, he explores poetic forms: “Doodlebug” is a funnel-shaped concrete poem; “Gopher Tortoise” is a villanelle. Cosgrove’s pictures expertly exploit the clever vertical orientation, with double-page spreads depicting both aboveground and subterrestrial realms. Above the gutter, “Yellow Jacket Wasp” depicts two, one flying, another climbing from a small hole in the ground. Below, another 15 emerge from a nest whose dark opening ominously promises more. Occasionally, the artist extends a poem’s meaning by presenting two views. For “Bumblebee,” a queen is shown among autumn leaves, then burrowed into a cozy winterized home. Two kids of color appear occasionally. The color palette combines naturalistic and fanciful hues: Wasps and bees sport their black and yellow stripes amid woodland scenes in seafoam, teal, and dusty lavender. Harrison includes additional notes for the poems’ 14 subjects, with at least one overgeneralization. (Not all grubs are “baby Japanese beetle[s].”)

An appealing mix of lively poems, engrossing pictures, and smart bookmaking. (web citations) (Informational picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3861-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more