From the World of Weird Animals series

An intriguing approach for animal-fact enthusiasts.

Seventeen of the world's oddest creatures share a single characteristic: their pink coloration.

For the opening title in her new series, Keating features weird and wonderful animals ranging from a deep-sea fish made of “gelatinous goo” to a tiny barrel-sponge occupant called a hairy squat lobster. In between, there are relatively familiar species such as hippopotamuses, roseate spoonbills, and Amazon river dolphins and more exotic ones such as the orchid mantis, pink fairy armadillo, and southern blind snake. Each double-page spread introduces a single animal with a photograph on the left and information on the facing page. A paragraph of description is followed by another about some intriguing aspect—perhaps the animal’s aposematic coloration that warns predators off or its hermaphroditic habits. This second paragraph is illustrated with a cartoon and set off with a blobby design feature that repeats in the colorful page backgrounds. Sidebars offer fast facts including name, Latin name, size, diet, habitat, and predators and threats. These texts will challenge the intended audience. They’re full of interesting but likely unfamiliar terms: carrion, deforestation, eusocial, negative phototaxis. These are printed in boldface in the text and defined in context and in a glossary. There are helpful suggestions for further research. Habitat ranges on an unlabeled world map are keyed to an alphabetical list of the animals, but there’s no index.

An intriguing approach for animal-fact enthusiasts. (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51227-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015


From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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