AT HOME WITH THE BEAVER

THE STORY OF A KEYSTONE SPECIES

A fine browse for young animal lovers and a good, basic choice for report writers.

Up-close and personal with a critically essential wetlands animal.

Beavers are known as a “keystone species” because the dams they build from logs, sticks, and mud create ecosystems—ponds—that provide habitats and sustenance for a vast variety of life forms that dwell in and around the ponds, including plants, insects, fish, snakes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other mammals. These sturdy rodents’ gifts keep on giving even beyond the ponds: Pond water irrigates surrounding vegetation, and the spaces left by trees beavers cut down with their strong, sharp teeth allow for more sunlight to pour down on the greenery. How important are beavers? This biodiversity likely wouldn’t exist without their hard labor. The author offers up these and other fascinating facts in clear, pithy, accessible prose, expressed in a conversational tone, including the tidbit that other animals may help themselves to beavers’ own lodges—sometimes even when the beavers are still living in them. The well-written, economic text, presented on the recto of double-page spreads, is handsomely supported by excellent, high-quality color photos on facing pages; these feature close-ups of some of the plants and wildlife that inhabit a pond and its idyllic surrounding landscape.

A fine browse for young animal lovers and a good, basic choice for report writers. (author’s note, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-970039-00-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Web of Life

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

OVER AND UNDER THE WAVES

From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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