A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters.

THE NOT BAD ANIMALS

Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood.

In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. “I’m creepy and I’m crawly,” a spider supposedly gloats. “I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.” In the following spread, the spider points out that “Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!” Along with pointing to roles in the natural order and including many crowd-pleasing references to butts and poop, these counterarguments tend to run along the lines of the rat’s “I’m a fluffy little SWEETIE!” and the toad’s “I am a plump lump of CUTENESS!” Each testimonial is backed up by a box of background information baldly labeled “FACTS.” Readers may find the chorus of smiley faces and claims of adorability unconvincing, but they will at least come away with more nuanced impressions of each creepy-crawly. The humorous cartoon illustrations don’t measure up to the in-your-face photos of Seymour Simon’s classic Animals Nobody Loves (2001), but this gallery of beasties unfairly regarded as “icky and ewwy and downright gross” is considerably broader.

An amiable point-counterpoint for budding animal lovers/haters. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4748-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

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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