An appetizing addition to the nature shelf.

I SEE SEA FOOD

SEA CREATURES THAT LOOK LIKE FOOD

An introduction to nine sea creatures named for their resemblance to human food.

After the opening invitation, each spread in this collection describes a fish, sea star, slug, or jelly with a common name that refers to its food look-alike. Large stock photos show the creature, usually in a recognizable reef or ocean habitat. A headline sentence describes its location and locomotion. A short paragraph explains its appearance and how its foodlike features contribute to its survival. A pineapple fish’s spiky scutes, a chocolate chip sea star’s horns, and a sea apple’s shape when inflated are actually protection. The green in a lettuce sea slug comes from the chloroplasts it eats, which convert sunlight to sugar to provide energy. The curly arms on a cauliflower jelly collect its food; the yellow or orange bell of the egg yolk jelly reflects the food it has eaten. The color of a banana wrasse indicates its gender. The shape of the pancake batfish and the color and texture of the pizza crust sea slug provide camouflage. Finally, there are fast facts including alternative common names, Latin names, size, range, habitat, predators, and one more tasty factoid. Grodzicki offers a surprising amount of nutrition with this menu, using appropriate vocabulary explained in context and defined in a glossary. Arguing that “weird and wonderful sea creatures deserve some love too!” she invites readers to continue their exploration.

An appetizing addition to the nature shelf. (further reading, quiz, photo acknowledgments) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5463-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An auspicious primer on some very big numbers.

A HUNDRED BILLION TRILLION STARS

Huge numbers take on an even bigger scale in Fishman and Greenberg’s insightful, awe-inspiring picture book.

A secret shared between narrator and the reader kicks things off: “The sun is just a star. / And there are (maybe) 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.” (Readers will be grateful for the “a hundred billion trillion” printed in the corner.) Stars too many to count, in various sizes and shapes, fill the double-page spread, illustrating the comically large number centered on the page. It’s enough to leave most flabbergasted, but Fishman aims for much more as he zeroes in on one particular blue-and-green planet. Even this celestial orb has its secrets: “Blue because it’s covered by 370,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water. Green because it’s covered in 3,000,000,000,000 trees.” From there it’s all about the (innumerable) details. For example, 10 quadrillion ants may equal 7.5 billion humans in weight (as terrifying as that sounds); meanwhile, 420 million dogs or guitars lined up head to foot circle the Earth about 10 times. The figures aren’t precise, but quibbling over exactness almost misses the point of the book. A constant throughout this excursion, however, is Greenberg’s digital artwork, which features bold, thick lines, vibrant colors and shapes, and a diverse cast of nameless characters. More notable perhaps is the author’s persistent focus on the reader: “There’s only one of YOU.” Such a statement threatens to veer into ham-fisted territory, but here it serves to underline how amazing it is to be the only one.

An auspicious primer on some very big numbers. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245578-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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