A warm and fuzzy look at animals living with disabilities.


Emerson profiles three animals with disabilities featured in The Dodo’s “Little but Fierce” online video series.

In two to three sentences per page, the author introduces a tiny trio. Vera, a French bulldog, “could fit into a teacup,” and her cleft palate made eating difficult; Cody, an alpaca, was too small to stand on her own; and Karamel, a squirrel, was injured in a trap, necessitating the amputation of her four legs (referred to as “arms”). Fortunately, patient humans nursed each back to relative health: “It only takes a little love to make a BIG difference!” Fans of cuddly animals will enjoy the cheery color photos as Vera mugs at the camera, Cody poses in a unicorn costume, and Karamel zooms with her wheeled prostheses. Kids with disabilities may find their furry counterparts comforting or cool. Though the text frames the plucky animals’ disabilities positively, it occasionally does so via clichés that humans with disabilities encounter all too often—though Vera is small, she “doesn’t let that stop her”; Cody “may be tiny, but her heart is BIG!” The page layout is rather busy. Against a graph-paper background, bright blue, green, pink, and yellow borders and text boxes compete with photos and text; occasional blue text against blue background is somewhat hard to read. A glossary defines terms printed in the narrative in boldface, such as “surgery” and “prosthetic.”

A warm and fuzzy look at animals living with disabilities. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57619-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.


An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Sad, sublime, and surely something special.



No creature should be locked up for life.

After then-President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (who is unnamed in the text) arranged for the delivery of an elephant to Pakistan in the mid-1980s, the year-old calf, Kaavan, was kept chained in the Marghazar Zoo for 35 years. For 22 of those years, Kaavan was kept with Saheli, a female elephant, but after her death, Kaavan was left alone. Thankfully, there is a happy ending to the tale, as concerned people around the world—including Egyptian veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil and pop star Cher—raised awareness of Kaavan’s miserable and lonely life, and he was eventually relocated to Cambodia’s Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, where he had more room and other elephants to socialize with. The story explores Kaavan and Dr. Khalil’s relationship and follows the journey to ensure that Kaavan would not be lonely anymore. The real star of this beautifully told story is the artwork, which deftly captures Kaavan’s pain. The illustrations—gouache and acrylic on wood—feature bands of grain below the painted surface that give a hazy beauty to the pages and a remarkable amount of texture to Kaavan’s skin. An author’s note and a brief list of sources provide additional information for curious readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sad, sublime, and surely something special. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-36459-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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