Informative and breathtakingly beautiful.



The giant sequoia tree is a natural wonder inspiring awe with its immensity and grandeur.

Cooke explores the sequoia’s life cycle from a tiny seed through its amazing growth and longevity to its eventual collapse, when it releases seeds for a new beginning. Fires clear undergrowth and allow the seeds to scatter. When no fires occur, insects perform the same functions. Sequoias can eventually fall victim to their own size, collapsing and decomposing. These facts are made accessible via concrete comparisons that engage young readers’ imaginations. The sequoia’s height is equal to “three blue whales stacked chin to tail,” and it is “as heavy as three hundred elephants.” As narrator, Cooke speaks with earnestness and clarity while employing language and syntax that are poetic and filled with obvious love of these giants. Hsieh’s double-page–spread illustrations, done in gorgeous tones of browns, yellows, and greens, add a dreamlike element. The sequoia itself is depicted with careful accuracy and, like the properties of its colorful bark, always seems to glow in sunlight, firelight, or moonlight. Wildlife has its place in the forest habitat, with deer, birds, squirrels, and more appearing in their natural activities. Several humans also appear—a diverse group of children, including one who uses a wheelchair, along with an older woman figure—all tiny at the base of the tree as they admire it in wonder.

Informative and breathtakingly beautiful. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-930238-85-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Yosemite Conservancy

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Science at its best: informative and gross.


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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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.


Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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