Smartly focused on characteristics that will most interest young animal admirers, this is an attractive addition to a...

TOOTH & CLAW

THE WILD WORLD OF BIG PREDATORS

Powerful acrylic paintings and detailed pencil sketches introduce awe-inspiring predators whose jaws and claws support their carnivorous diets.

In this sixth album in a series that began with Wild Tracks (2008), Arnosky presents five species of cats, four types of bears and gray wolves. The naturalist covers size, shape and appearance; where these remarkable creatures live; what and how they eat; and how they hunt for their prey. Each section includes a full-page painting of the animal in the wild opposite a page of conversational explanatory text and smaller, labeled sketches. Four fold-out pages provide the opportunity for even more dramatic spreads: a pride of African lions, two heading toward a herd of zebras; a close-up of a sunlit cheetah contrasted with a leopard hiding in a tree; a threatening grizzly bear’s sharp teeth and claws. Pencil sketches show the animals’ skulls and sharp shearing teeth, the different spot patterns of jaguars, leopards and cheetahs, and animal tracks. A sketch of an anaconda’s skull offers an interesting comparison. Occasionally the author describes a personal experience, though for the most part, he observed these animals in captivity, as readers will. Supporting this appealing introduction are solid suggestions for further reading about most species.

Smartly focused on characteristics that will most interest young animal admirers, this is an attractive addition to a popular series. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8624-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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