UNITED TWEETS OF AMERICA

This rollicking roll call of state fast facts takes the form of a pageant of birds, each introducing their home state in ways that will delight trivia fans. Page by page, state by state, Talbott provides the capitol, the nickname and a varied assortment of other tidbits: notable residents and products, flowers, trees, songs and more. Illustrations add information. Knowledgeable readers will recognize a variety of iconic scenes and such details as a Denver Broncos helmet on Colorado’s page. Clever byplay between birds on adjoining pages adds interest. Sometimes the humor gets in the way of the facts: One chickadee in Massachusetts is misshapen and sports a tongue, and in Maine most have their tell-tale black caps covered with yellow rain gear. Some jokes may go over the heads of intended readers, who may also have trouble distinguishing fact from fancy here. But where U.S. geography is part of the elementary-school curriculum, this lighthearted look at the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) will be welcome. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-24520-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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Dog training, trauma recovery, and just enough urgency to keep it moving: a quiet pleasure.

STELLA

A traumatized working dog has one last chance after the death of her handler.

Stella, a bomb-sniffing beagle, has been in three foster homes since the death of her handler, Connie, in an explosion. Now she’s got PTSD, and she panics at loud noises, fire, or being left alone. Unable to do anything for her, the humans plan to euthanize Stella until she receives a last-minute reprieve. An old friend of Connie’s, a world-class dog trainer, decides to take on Stella’s rehabilitation as a favor to her old friend. Through Stella’s doggy point of view (usually, though not entirely, limited to what a dog could theoretically comprehend), readers are introduced to dog training with Esperanza and her 11-year-old daughter, Cloe. Esperanza and Cloe, who come from a Spanish-speaking family background, live in the country with other working dogs, a cat, and sheep. Perhaps in this rural environment Stella can finally recover. As her bond with Cloe grows, Stella learns more about what Cloe’s sometimes-strange smells mean when she first witnesses Cloe have an epileptic seizure. Stella’s narration duly reports all the human conversations she doesn’t understand; combined with Stella’s somewhat anthropomorphized trauma recovery, Cloe’s hopes and fears come through clearly. There’s plenty of training process to please lovers of realistic dog books.

Dog training, trauma recovery, and just enough urgency to keep it moving: a quiet pleasure. (discussion questions) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62972-901-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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