Nearly founders under its informational load, but shark lovers will bite.



From the Fabien Cousteau Expeditions series

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques, leads two fictive young explorers to a close encounter with a great white.

Though the urge to lecture wins out (“As we know,” a crew member drones, “sharks are being fished at a rate that’s faster than they can reproduce”), this graphic outing does end up carrying a hefty cargo of information about shark behavior, their role in the food chain, and continuing threats to their existence. Climaxed by a nerve-wracking demonstration of the tricky process of shark “tagging,” the marine expedition is also punctuated by glimpses of dolphins, whales, albatrosses, a deep-sea oarfish, and other sea creatures, not to mention the recovery of a huge trove of sunken treasure and undersea observations in no fewer than three submersibles: a clear Plexiglass shell, one disguised as a big seal, and one shaped like a shark. Considering that the latter two draw brief but violent attacks it’s a bit of a hard sell to claim that sharks are “very peaceful and likable,” but the wide-eyed students—calm, brown-skinned Bela and her timorous white friend Marcus—definitely come away, as do readers, understanding that humans are far more dangerous to sharks than vice versa. The lengthy blocks of dialogue and background commentary really squeeze the researchers and their finny subjects in St. Pierre’s brightly colored panels, but along with plainly making an effort to minimize talking heads and static standing groups, he manages to depict a diverse array of fish and other sea life.

Nearly founders under its informational load, but shark lovers will bite. (Graphic informational fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2088-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.


An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so.



The rewards of simply taking time to bend down for a closer look are celebrated in this tribute to the great French entomologist.

Seeing as a lad that “every patch of dirt and tangle of weeds buzzed with insects: dazzling beetles, ferocious wasps, sweet-singing crickets, and more,” young Fabre went on to devote a long life to watching common insects rather than just collecting dead specimens as most of his contemporary colleagues did. The distinctive, enduring affection with which he regarded his diminutive subjects regardless of their often savage behavior comes through clearly here, both in Smith’s warm narrative and Ferri’s equally engaging views of the naturalist. He delightedly discovers a shimmering hoplia beetle beneath a leaf, smiles from his sickbed as a handful of hibernating bees revives after his son carries them indoors, and is wonderstruck by an account of how Cerceris wasps paralyze beetles as live food for offspring. (The illustrator has a little fun with viewers by adding a looming insectile shadow as well as close-up views of hovering wasps in this last scene.) Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and though he is largely unknown to nonspecialists today, his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers.

Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so. (historical note, timeline, author’s note, annotated source list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2632-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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