A pleaser for younger naturalists.

WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

Mini-dossiers on 13 of the natural world’s thieves, tricksters, and other felons.

Tekavec’s criminals are wanted for infractions that include dangling a light in dark waters to draw unwary prey (anglerfish, aka “Ms. Jagged Jaws”), shooting a prospective mate with “a dart full of love hormones” (Roman snail, aka “Lil’ Cupid”), slipping an egg into another bird’s nest (common cuckoo, aka “Big Bad Mama”), or bullying rivals into sterility (naked mole rat queen, aka “Queenie the Meanie”). These and other bad actors are profiled with an M.O., a cartoon mug shot, and a fact-filled rap sheet. The author may stretch the premise a bit by including the wood frog, whose only misfeasance is spending winters as a frozen “Frogsicle,” and “Slippery Slick” the llama for leaving “spit-covered tourists at the ruins of Machu Picchu,” but the comical grimaces or expressions of popeyed dismay on Batori’s wild creatures give the whole rogues’ gallery a lighthearted, all-in-fun air. Kids will love learning about such revolting behaviors as antlion larvae’s pre-consumption digestion of their food. The author’s closing tally of animal commandments (“#3 All mothers are responsible for their own eggs”) serves as an artful recap/pop quiz to boot. Kids who find the likes of Jim Arnosky’s Tooth & Claw (2014) or Steve Jenkins’ Apex Predators (2017) a bit too, um, toothy are well served here.

A pleaser for younger naturalists. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0024-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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