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DESERT JUNGLE

Rich in sights and insights alike.

A child learns greater appreciation for the previously ignored desert around him after a coyote steals his backpack—and his gaming tablet.

Inspired, she writes, by a long research trip to the Sonoran Desert’s Valle de los Cirios, located in Arizona and Baja California, and by studies indicating that deserts are actually richer in pollinator diversity than rainforests, Baker carpets the rocky, sandy landscapes in her beautiful low-relief collage illustrations with realistically detailed ocotillo, cholla, and other succulents. So dense is the vegetation that a young narrator briefly loses his way after wandering off in search of the backpack he had left outside his grandfather’s ranch house. Left with nothing better to do, he begins exploring—encountering local flora and fauna, collecting small mementos, and, climactically, sharing a cave with a coyote when a sudden storm blows up. And though the cave is empty when he returns, his grandpa claims that the animal is still there…pointing to an ancient image painted on the wall. From then on, even after he goes back to his village, the child’s newly kindled love of his land’s wonders remains. The author adds thoughts about how more and more children are subject to “nature-deficit disorder,” an indifference to the natural world caused by isolation from, and ignorance of, the plants and animals around them. As this profoundly stirring tale hints, connection is the only cure. Both characters present Latine. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Rich in sights and insights alike. (map) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9781536225778

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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OVER AND UNDER THE WAVES

From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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