THE PIG WAR

HOW A PORCINE TRAGEDY TAUGHT ENGLAND AND AMERICA TO SHARE

“This is a true tale about two mighty nations, an ill-fated pig, and a most unusual war. It is also a story about sharing.”

That opening, in black, sans-serif lettering, is followed by further text that’s broken up by red-inked headings for date, setting, characters, and mood. Continuing a jaunty, lighthearted tone that proceeds throughout the text, it informs readers that the mood is “About to change, for the worse.” The verso sports an antique-looking map of the Western Hemisphere with a detail of San Juan—a Pacific Northwest coast island of, in 1859, ambiguous provenance inhabited both by British employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company and a few American settlers. (The original, Indigenous residents are relegated to a parenthetical mention in the author’s note and figure not at all in the story.) As the story begins, an American named Lyman Cutlar angrily kills Brit Charles Griffin’s pig as it eats from Cutlar’s potato patch. Cutlar apologizes and offers to pay for the pig but then refuses to pay Griffin’s exorbitant asking price. Enter authorities from both nations in an escalation that eventually involves scores of warships. When war seems inevitable, Gen. Winfield Scott is sent by President James Buchanan to mediate. The text is true to its introduction, and it also pursues the idea that hotheadedness leads to disastrous consequences. Vocabulary, verbosity, and content suit this for older elementary, independent readers. The storytelling goes a bit flat at the end, when Cutlar is mentioned but not Griffin. Colorful, stylized art against apparently distressed surfaces is an impeccable complement. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42.6% of actual size.)

Weirdly fascinating. (photographs, timeline, resources, artist’s note) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-171-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Weak of content but heartfelt of tone and with eye-catching illustrations.

ENDANGERED ANIMALS

AND HOW YOU CAN HELP

Intricate cut-paper montages featuring almost invisibly embedded wild animals accompany a plea to be concerned about threatened and endangered species.

Arranged along the lines of their previous search-and-find outings, Animal Habitats (2019) and Animal Camouflage (2017), the book presents a sampling of the endangered animals found in each of seven generic habitats: rainforest, desert, ocean, savanna, mountains, forest, and polar. Dennis highlights Hutchinson’s brief introductions to select wildlife first with a set of technically adroit individual cut-paper portraits and then, with a page turn, a challenging full-page collective tangle of flora and fauna tailor made for poring over. The author hasn’t really done his homework, as he hilariously mischaracterizes the black rhino as a “gentle giant” and also supplies incorrect “Red List” ratings for several entries, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Furthermore, of the nine chosen examples in each group, two or three at one end of the spread are rated “least concern” or “data deficient” (and therefore quite possibly not threatened) on the IUCN List, and one or two at the opposite end are already “extinct” or “extinct in the wild”—which rather cuts down on the number of creatures on display that are actually endangered. Poor copy editing also compromises the presentation’s effectiveness.

Weak of content but heartfelt of tone and with eye-catching illustrations. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61689-940-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Both casual browsers and budding zoologists will light up.

NATURE AT NIGHT

A gallery of luminous natural beauties (not necessarily nocturnal), from puffins to polar lights.

Leading off with a lenticular 3-D cover image of a hawksbill sea turtle glimmering red and green, this (stock) photo gallery spans land, sea, and sky to present 23 lambent wonders—all animals except for the foxfire mushroom and the northern and southern auroras—enhanced by glow-in-the-dark highlights. Even without that gimmick the figures seem luminous against the deep, black backgrounds. Nor is the glow always external; chameleons shine from their very bones; fimbriated moray eels gleam in part from internal organs; and the mushrooms, an orange octopus, and several others in the lineup at least look brightly lit from within. Aside from occasional bobbles, such as a claim that glowworms luminesce as larvae opposite a photo of flashing adults and contradictory observations that polka-dot tree frogs shine either by natural or only in ultraviolet light, Regan’s lucid, specific remarks about how each organism makes and uses its lights are spot-on. Anita Sitarski’s Cold Light (2007) offers less-dazzling photography but makes a natural follow-up since it illuminates a wider range of examples (including light-producing rocks and minerals) in greater detail.

Both casual browsers and budding zoologists will light up. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-2281-0255-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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