A pleasant but not necessary addition to the nature shelves.

DO LIZARDS EAT ICE CREAM?

HOW ANIMALS BEAT THE HEAT

Silly questions and sensible, sometimes surprising answers show how animals cope with hot temperatures.

In this companion to Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate? How Animals Keep Warm (2018), Kaner offers young readers further fascinating facts about animal adaptations. Not all her foolish-seeming questions are answered negatively. Sometimes, there is a “YES!” or a “YES! (sort of),” which is far more likely to engage surprised readers than a straight binary. Ochre sea stars “fill up with cold seawater so they won’t dry out in the sun” if stranded on shore at high tide. So yes, like us, they drink lots of water to stay cool. Musk oxen don’t get haircuts, but they shed a woolly layer every spring. From shovel-snouted lizards to herring gulls, the 13 species portrayed come from around the world. Many will be familiar, even to second graders, from zoos, picture books, and nature documentaries. With its stylized illustrations and clean, colorful design, this would show well in a read-aloud session. But alas, as in the previous title, the designer wasted the opportunity a picture-book page turn provides for engaging listeners in speculation, instead placing question and answer on the same spread. A final page, showing a brown-haired, brown-skinned child floating in a tube and eating a Popsicle, suggests what some lucky humans can do. With no backmatter nor sources this has limited potential beyond its not-inconsiderable entertainment value.

A pleasant but not necessary addition to the nature shelves. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-398-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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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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