Unvarnished infotainment, cross-purposed and more suitable for casual browsing than focused research.

FRIEND OR FOE

THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT ANIMALS PEOPLE LOVE TO HATE

An album of scary, dangerous, or revolting creatures—all of which have better sides.

For 10 animals, from rats and roaches to sharks and wolves, Kaner presents in turn a selection of destructive or disgusting habits, then beneficial behaviors. Though negatives tend to be more vivid than countering claims, readers who swoon over gross bits will find plenty of passages like “How does a vulture cool off on hot days? It poops on its legs,” and “It takes much less feed, land, and water to raise a pound of cockroach meat than it does to raise a pound of beef.” Her titles are thrilling too: “Leeches Suck.” “AAH! SHARKS!” “Vultures Deserve Better Press.” Along with being sometimes unconvincing (“Marvelous Mosquitoes”), most of her observations are generalized or, like a suggestion that a certain mosquito-eating spider might be the “solution” for malaria, facile. Moreover, her invitation to make a “friend or foe?” choice for each animal sets up a series of false dichotomies that she then confusingly (if rightly) dismisses abruptly with a concluding explanation that “Animals Are Just Doing Their Thing.” Anderson adds a comical tone to the enterprise with cartoon illustrations of beasties bearing human expressions and uttering such quips as “Howl’s it going?” or “I’m glad pie-thon isn’t on the menu!”

Unvarnished infotainment, cross-purposed and more suitable for casual browsing than focused research. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-064-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection.

BICYCLING TO THE MOON

Can a cat and a dog be best friends? Purdy and Barker make it work.

The duo lives in a sky-blue house on top of a hill near their friends Henny Cluckington, Daisy Butterfield, and Connie Quackstrom, among others. Purdy’s a free spirit always in search of something new and coming up with schemes, while Barker is a no-nonsense pooch who enjoys the simple pleasures of gardening, working around the house, and doing nice things for his best friend. When Purdy decides he’s a great singer and practices—ear-splittingly—all day long, Barker, true friend, encourages him. When Purdy’s yowl at the talent contest scares away the audience, Barker, the contest judge, sticks it out (though he does not award his bestie the prize). When Barker’s prize tomato goes missing, Purdy’s thoughtlessness causes a great tomato fight…but they end up making delicious tomato sauce and having friends over for dinner. Through a year of adventures (and some disagreements), this unlikely pair remains the best of friends. Finn Parvela tells 20 stories in 20 chapters in wry, straightforward prose translated by Urbom. Complex characters, by turns witty and foolish, will charm readers and listeners alike; Talvitie’s smudgy-lined full-color illustrations complete the package.

A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-31-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Furnished with a light wash of natural science, a buggy, action-oriented adventure that goes light on the gore and gross...

THE LIZARD WAR

From the Battle Bugs series , Vol. 1

Budding entomologist Max Darwin makes a wish—and finds himself on Bug Island, where the local insects are threatened by an invasion of hungry reptiles and amphibians.

With little preliminary ado, Patton hands his young protagonist a fascinating old insect encyclopedia and a very special magnifying glass that shrinks him to proper size and plunks him down amid Bug Island’s beleaguered arthropods. It seems a volcanic eruption has laid a land bridge between the island and the neighboring Reptilian Empire—allowing a horde of insect-eating creatures led by roaring Gen. Komodo to cross over. Can Max use his big brain to find a way to save new friends Barton, a titan beetle, genial emperor scorpion Spike, shy trap-door spider Webster, and the rest of the island’s diverse cast of six- or eight-legged residents from becoming a buggy banquet? And will he be able to get back to his original size and home? That would be yes and yes—following plenty of furious but fatality-free fighting and some ingenious further bridge building that puts a river between the bugs and their scaly nemeses. But the war’s not over yet; stay tuned for return visits in two planned sequels. Finished illustrations not seen, but in samples, Bean draws Max as a dark-skinned, black-haired boy.

Furnished with a light wash of natural science, a buggy, action-oriented adventure that goes light on the gore and gross bits. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-70741-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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