A broad and engaging introduction to the largest vertebrate group.

ALL THE FISH IN THE WORLD

Mudskipper shows Trout that it’s not so easy to say “what makes a fish a fish.”

There are thousands of ways to be a fish. While most fish have scales, fins, backbones, a streamlined shape, and gills for breathing underwater, there are surprising exceptions. As he did with the kiwi in All the Birds in the World (2020), Opie picks an outlier to be a main character in this introduction to a wide-ranging animal category. Spread by spread, Mudskipper shows Trout ways that fish are alike and different in underwater scenes filled with clearly recognizable fish. (Scene by scene, over 150 species are identified, according to the key in the backmatter). One spread shows fish that differ in shape and color; another, size; a third, different patterns; and a fourth considers scales. Varieties of sharks and rays illustrate the point that some fish skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Rotating the book 90 degrees reveals fish that swim in dark sea depths. The author also covers nests, eggs, and live birthing as well as different sensory organs, locomotion, and breathing. Finally readers learn what makes Mudskipper special. “There’s never just one way to be a fish,” Mudskipper concludes; narrative text clarifies: “Over 33,000 ways, to be a little more precise.” There’s solid science information in the text, but the story is carried through by conversation between the two named fish. Aquarium visitors will recognize some of the more striking species.

A broad and engaging introduction to the largest vertebrate group. (author’s notes) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4413-3578-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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