Sashays down the runway but fails to make any lasting impression.

WILD STYLE

AMAZING ANIMAL ADORNMENTS

Eleven wild creatures model mud, oil, dead ants, poop, and other fashion-forward accessories.

Though the conceit has at least as much promise as that of her I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food (2019), Grodzicki shows an odd reluctance to own it. She characterizes both the iron-rich muck that bearded vultures rub into their feathers and the anal-gland oil that flamingos rub into theirs to make them even more “Pretty in Pink” as actual adornment. However, she contradicts her own language to note that wild boars aren’t wallowing in “muddy body paint” to “make a fashion statement,” and even after heading an entry “BLING! BLING!” she explains that the pile of “jewelry” (i.e. bits of plant and animal debris) that lacewing larvae carry around for protection “isn’t sparkly or flashy.” Overall the author’s comments about how various found or excreted substances play roles in predation, defense, or attracting a mate (just like with people, not that she makes that connection) are spot-on, and the big, sharply focused, close-up stock photos will be a strong draw. But the ready way she abandons her premise muddles the presentation and will likely leave readers feeling confused or let down. Steer young naturalists first to the similar but more bounteous Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (2014). (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.75-by-19.5-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58% of actual size.)

Sashays down the runway but fails to make any lasting impression. (summary fact boxes, glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8123-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A launch-pad fizzle.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Flaps and pull-tabs in assorted astro-scenes reveal several wonders of the universe as well as inside glimpses of observatories, rockets, a space suit, and the International Space Station.

Interactive features include a spinnable Milky Way, pop-up launches of Ariane and Soyuz rockets, a solar-system tour, visits to the surfaces of the moon and Mars, and cutaway views beneath long, thin flaps of an international array of launch vehicles. Despite these bells and whistles, this import is far from ready for liftoff. Not only has Antarctica somehow gone missing from the pop-up globe, but Baumann’s commentary (at least in Booker’s translation from the French original) shows more enthusiasm than strict attention to accuracy. Both Mercury and Venus are designated “hottest planet” (right answer: Venus); claims that there is no gravity in space and that black holes are a type of star are at best simplistic; and “we do not know what [other galaxies] actually look like” is nonsensical. Moreover, in a clumsy attempt to diversify the cast on a spread about astronaut training, Latyk gives an (evidently) Asian figure caricatured slit eyes and yellow skin.

A launch-pad fizzle. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-197-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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