Kelsey and Kim’s latest brings author and illustrator together to spark conversations about an ineffable, arduous subject: death.

Scientifically sound and philosophically profound, Kelsey’s spare, graceful first-person text directly addresses a dying dearest while Kim’s visuals provide insights from fellow life-forms’ mourning rituals. Readers may watch through tears as elephants support the frail with tusk and trunk, whales lift their loved ones to the ocean’s surface for a final breath, and chimps lay the ailing down to groom their hair. Forthright, euphemism-free language refreshes: These animals are indeed dying, and it’s wise to acknowledge this fact. As life leaves the body, readers bear witness to howler monkeys crying out, hyenas sorrowfully cuddling, and gorillas silently tending to their beloved’s final moments. Suspended from fishing wire in wooden frames, Kim’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are suffused with softest blacks and deepest blues, luxuriant greens and gentle magentas. Each diorama relies on illusions of depth to balance intricately detailed cutouts with stark backgrounds. Soon, mourners gather as a community. Orcas, elephants, and chimps assemble in a splendid spiral to pay respects while magpies and elephants place flowers and leaves as tokens of their affection. Eventually, melancholy melts into a sensitive celebration of the life cycle as bodies decompose and serve as staging grounds for new beginnings; “our lives plant a long line of love in this wild, thriving planet.”

Staggering. (author’s note, website) (Informational picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-364-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.


Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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