An effective demonstration of the reverberations of climate change.

PIKA COUNTRY

CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD

Pikas, tiny rabbit relatives living in high altitudes, serve as an entry point toward understanding the consequences of a warming world.

Following At Home With the Beaver, with photos by Michael Runtz (2019), Patent, with co-author Garnsworthy, returns to the idea of the interconnectedness of species with this welcome new title. Hartman’s photographs dramatically illustrate a clear, well-organized text that opens with descriptions of the mountainous “pika country” near Yellowstone National Park and the feisty pikas. Readers first see a pika “scurry, scurry, hurry,” gathering food for the day and for its winter hay pile. There’s a helpful map and photos of the scenery in several seasons. The writers introduce the idea of climate change (printed in boldface and defined, like other important words, in a glossary) and other animals sharing this gradually warming habitat. Not only is the pika’s livable world shrinking as the snowline moves up the mountains, there’s less of an insulating snowpack in winter and fewer hours with appropriate temperatures for foraging in summer. Photos, diagrams (by Garnsworthy), and words work together to demonstrate the food web that includes this tiny mammal and other plants and animals, also threatened by the changing climate, whose lives connect with theirs. In conclusion, final essays explain today’s climate change causes and suggest some personal actions in the realms of transportation, living and eating habits, and sharing information, but no sources or further resources are offered.

An effective demonstration of the reverberations of climate change. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-970039-02-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Web of Life

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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

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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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