A must-have for anyone who loves elephants.

READ REVIEW

THE ELEPHANT

As a young boy in a striped shirt and blue jeans reads his book about elephants, readers learn facts along with him.

Delightful art gracefully meanders back and forth between Sendak-ian people and objects and almost photorealistic representations of elephants in their natural habitats. There are quite a few children’s books about these magnificent, endangered mammals, and this one is among the best. The accessible text is supplemented by art that drives home such points as the differences between Asian and African elephants and the way an elephant foot’s anatomy resembles a woman’s (dark-skinned) leg in high heels. Perhaps the best example is the illustration highlighting the amazing reality of an older male bull’s 100-pound, 8-foot-long tusk: The book’s protagonist and a friend stretch out, foot-to-foot, along the tusk of a benign-appearing elephant, as the text states that the tusk is “the same length as two seven-year-old children toe to toe.” And what fun seeing the boy atop the formidable pyramid of fruit that represents a bull elephant’s diet of 700 pounds of plant matter a day! The protagonist is dark-skinned, as is his friend, and the appearance of only one white human face is refreshing, as is the matter-of-fact, nonpreachy tone used when discussing saving elephants from extinction. The text covers elephant territory, anatomy, behaviors, and more, ending with comparisons between sleep for elephants and sleep for humans—a perfect ending for a well-executed book.

A must-have for anyone who loves elephants. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-264-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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