It’s worth a look, but it won’t be a star player in any collection.

DO FROGS DRINK HOT CHOCOLATE?

HOW ANIMALS KEEP WARM

Let’s talk about animal adaptations!

Preschoolers are naturally curious and are filled with a million and one questions (on a slow day). Kaner takes on some animal-themed questions by examining how different species of animals have adapted to deal with chilly weather. The species are international: Alaskan wood frogs, Japanese macaques, and guanacos share the book with more familiar species such as squirrels, butterflies, and penguins. Some species are rather far-reaching. Are tuataras on a preschooler’s radar? And although a beaver opens the book with a fanciful scenario in which it turns up a thermostat, it’s never revealed how beavers stay warm. Resourceful educators may use these more unusual species as a launchpad for further exploration. Martz’s illustrations, which appear to be digital, humorously support the text throughout. Disappointingly, however the design of the book fails to take advantage of the page turn. The questions Kaner asks (“Do honeybees use teamwork?”) are answered across the gutter, effectively stopping all open-ended discussion among readers. This is unfortunate because it greatly limits the use of the book or requires jury-rigged props to promote critical-thinking and discussion skills. Furthermore, there is no backmatter with further reading or more information about the animal species discussed.

It’s worth a look, but it won’t be a star player in any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-292-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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