FLOWERS

Gibbons’ lovely botanical renderings are ill-served by the effort to cover too much for the format.

A very busy informational picture book for preschool and primary grades.

There is almost too much information in this 32-page compendium. Following a generic one-line introduction, Gibbons launches into discussions of climate, how and where plants grow (from seeds, from bulbs, and on vines, bushes, and trees), habitats, environment, annuals, perennials. This occupies 10 pages. Another 10 pages explain the parts of a flower as well as pollination and propagation. “How to Grow a Garden” fills six pages, starting with “Spring” and including pages for “Summer” and “Fall” (but no Winter). Finally, Gibbons discusses community gardens, greenhouses, and florists before a concluding page with thumbnail drawings of “Birthday Flowers as well as assorted “Flower Facts”—curiosities that may intrigue readers patient enough to find them. The large, 10-inch-square trim, and the attractive, detailed, and accurate watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations outlined in black ink within, will attract picture-book readers, but the cramped and cluttered layout may be off-putting. At the same time, the absence of a table of contents or index limits its utility for older students’ research. Gibbons’ fans may be disappointed by the overreach.

Gibbons’ lovely botanical renderings are ill-served by the effort to cover too much for the format. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3787-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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