A peppy introduction to a lesser-known type of worker dog.




An exploration of the work of avalanche-rescue dogs through a focus on one dog and her trainer.

Piper is a 3-year-old border collie who is training with her owner, Sara, to become an avalanche-rescue dog in Washington. Rusch outlines Piper’s daily training at a ski resort, introduces readers to her canine classmates, and concludes with Piper’s big test to become a rescue dog. Present-tense narration paired with dynamic color photographs puts readers in the moment with Piper: “Suddenly, she stops and her head snaps back. Did she smell something? She sniffs a bit but continues across the slope toward a cluster of trees.” Casual, colloquial language makes the narrative friendly and information accessible: “When Piper, Darwin, and other team members get pooped, they head into a hut to warm up and relax.” Bold display type and clear headers and borders create distinctive sections and provide space for eyes to rest. Inset information fills in relevant details about avalanches, dog biology, and dog training. Backmatter includes instructions for making a tug toy and training a dog to tug, and Rusch includes both a list of further reading and a list of internet resources—including how to find more information specifically about Piper and her co-workers.

A peppy introduction to a lesser-known type of worker dog. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63217-173-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity.



Creatively stylized images of flora and fauna native to some 15 deserts around the world.

Interspersing her examination with closer looks at camels and at sand dunes, the bird communities associated with acacia trees, and like intriguing sidelights, Tzomaka poses groups of select residents from all three types of desert (hot, cold, and coastal) against sere backdrops, with pithily informative comments on characteristic behaviors and survival strategies. But significant bits of her presentation are only semilegible, with black type placed on deep blue or purple backgrounds. And rarely (if ever) have desert animals looked so…floral. Along with opting for a palette of bright pinks, greens, and purples rather than natural hues for her flat, screen-print–style figures, Tzomaka decorates them with contrasting whirls of petals and twining flourishes, stars, scallops, pinwheels, and geometric lines or tessellations. Striking though these fancies are, artistic license has led her into some serious overgeneralizations, as she claims to be drawing on regional folk motifs for inspiration—justifying the ornate ruffs and borders on creatures of the Kalahari with a vague note that “African tribes make accessories and jewelry…decorated with repeated lines, circles and dots,” for instance, and identifying a Northwest Coastal pattern on an arctic fox as “Inuit.” Readers may find less shifty footing in more conventional outings like Jim Arnosky’s Watching Desert Wildlife (1998).

A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity. (map, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65198-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An ill-conceived exercise in anthropomorphism.


Over 100 wild animals describe their jobs in human terms.

As a useful premise or even a viable conceit, this is an abject failure as nonfiction. Giving all 112 creatures introduced here different occupations, Hunt misleads with artificial cognates: the hyena tells readers: “I am a comedian”; the porcupine announces: “I am an acupuncturist.” One- or two-sentence explanatory notes often muddy the waters further: “I laugh hysterically to show how important I am in the group,” the hyena says. Moreover, an opening assertion that in nature animals help “their neighbors to have better lives,” coupled with a scarcity of specific references thereafter to predators and prey, is just disingenuous…as is a claim later on that indigenous species in the Hawaiian Islands and those that were introduced more recently, such as the Indian mongoose (shown here robbing a bird’s nest), “work side by side.” The collectively produced cartoon illustrations (“Muti” is a studio) feature both individual portraits and ensemble views of each animal, generally smiling, in one of 14 relatively specific habitats, from the “Kenyan savanna in Africa” to a Washington state backyard (where honeybees are inaccurately housed in a paper-wasps’ nest).

An ill-conceived exercise in anthropomorphism. (index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84780-972-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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