A pleaser for younger naturalists.


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.


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.


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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