An idyllic view of the conventional annual cycle.

A YEAR IN NATURE

A CAROUSEL BOOK OF THE SEASONS

Trees leaf out and change color, wildflowers bloom, birds nest, and fawns and fox kits grow through a four-season round.

The hand of man never appears in Taylor’s deciduous dells, and they teem with wildlife for young viewers to spot. Maskell’s bland text, set in noodle-shaped captions, helps by pointing out highlights or setting easy challenges: “A woodpecker drums on a tree trunk calling for a mate”; “The leaves turn red, orange, and gold”; “Can you count 12 birds with yellow chests?” If the natural history is sometimes a bit vague (“Minibeasts live inside this tree trunk, and others creep up underneath”) and much of the flora and fauna goes unidentified, still the sylvan residents are at least naturalistically depicted. Also, though the woodland biome doesn’t change, each scene is slightly different, as though viewers were turning in place. The artist varies the quality of light from tableau to tableau as well, and the pop-up trees create tantalizing depths and shadows. The covers can be folded back and tied with a ribbon to create a turnable panorama. Most animals will be recognizable to residents of the temperate zones of North America despite the book’s European setting.

An idyllic view of the conventional annual cycle. (Informational pop-up novelty. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78627-306-2

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Laurence King

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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