Similar butterfly albums abound, but none show these most decorative members of the insect clan to better...

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A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT

Another interwoven flight of poetry, natural history and lovely art from the creators of An Egg Is Quiet (2006) and A Seed Is Sleepy (2007).

Beneath hand-scripted headers that sometimes take license with facts but create lyrical overtones (“A butterfly is creative”), Aston offers specific and accurate descriptions of metamorphosis, pollination, camouflage, migration and other butterfly features and functions, along with the differences between butterflies and moths. Imagination-stretching comparisons—“monarchs weigh only as much as a few rose petals,” the wingspan of the Arian Small Blue is “about the length of a grain of rice”—lend wings to the body of facts, and though the author avoids direct mention of reproduction or death, a quick closing recapitulation that harks back to the opening page’s hatching egg provides an artful hint of life’s cyclical pattern. With finely crafted, carefully detailed close-up watercolors, Long depicts dozens of caterpillars and butterflies, each one posed to best advantage, unobtrusively labeled and so lifelike that it’s almost a surprise to page back and find them in the same positions.

Similar butterfly albums abound, but none show these most decorative members of the insect clan to better advantage. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6479-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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THE MYSTERIOUS WOODS OF WHISTLE ROOT

A strange, whimsical debut that may never quite convince readers why they should care about it.

Carly Bean Bitters is a likable 11-year-old with a strange malady: She is awake at night and sleeps during the day. This allows her to notice a strange phenomenon—a squash that appears on her roof. Carly soon meets Lewis, a musician and a rat, who explains that the squash is a member of his band, taking the place of a rat who has been abducted by owls. When Lewis introduces Carly to the other members of his rat community in the Whistle Root woods, she learns that the owls’ current behavior is abnormal—they used to dance to the rats’ moonlight tunes before they suddenly began snatching them. Thus begins a bizarre journey for Carly, who must discover the reason behind the owls’ sudden change of heart and other strange occurrences in the woods and her town. Though the back story behind the Whistle Root wood and various characters’ behavior is eventually explained, the explanations themselves are often disjointed and don’t quite add up. This feeling of arbitrariness makes it hard for readers to engage with the rats’ plight. While this quiet book achieves a timeless feel—being identifiably set neither in our world nor in another—this cannot atone for a history of the magical woods and creatures that sometimes feels nonsensical. (Fantasy. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-79263-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A treat for proto–Percy Jackson fans.

THE QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN FLEAS

From the Zeus the Mighty series , Vol. 1

A center for rescued pets becomes the stage for adventures of literally mythical import in this series opener.

Convinced that they’re the gods after whom they’ve been named by the Mount Olympus Pet Center’s myth-loving owner (and Boyer drops hints that they’re not wrong), Zeus, a rescued hamster, and allies Demeter, Athena, and Ares—respectively a cricket, a tabby cat, and a scene-stealing pug of big stomach but little brain—get out at night to face such challenges as the deadly whirlpool of Charybdis (a stuck toilet). After listening (not very attentively) to a podcast version of “Jason and the Argonauts,” Zeus decides to settle a long-standing rivalry with a pufferfish named Poseidon by returning in triumph with the “Golden Fleas.” Little does he know that the quest will take him into Uncharted Territory (the empty store next door) where shrieking harpies (bats) lurk….While all of this doesn’t map very closely on the original yarn, it does offer opportunities aplenty for displays of courage, cleverness, and loyalty…as well as lots of comical byplay. Elkerton adds to both the comedy and the drama with vignettes and larger scenes of partly anthropomorphic animals in chitons and divine regalia, often looking dismayed or, in Ares’ case, ever on the lookout for Mutt Nuggets. A closing section includes further information on the source story and Greek myths in general.

A treat for proto–Percy Jackson fans. (map, floor plan) (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3547-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Under the Stars

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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