Natural selection lite? (Picture book. 4-7)

1001 ANTS

A line of ants marches toward an unknown destination against a background of successive double-page spreads featuring the various flora and fauna encountered during the journey.

The initial double-page spread, like all the others, has a stark white background, broken by stylized, black-inked, plantlike designs. The foreground of this spread shows a large, cross-sectioned, brown anthill. Its white tunnels and chambers—some containing ants and others with such ant necessities as seeds and aphids—branch out from the book’s center, accompanied by accessible text with brief explanations. The scores of black ants have a realistic body shape, with crescent-moon negative space creating comical eyes. From the start, red ink urges readers to “keep an eye out” for a “little ant in red socks hiding in every picture in this book.” This offers two advantages: extra fun along the way, and a cushion of relief at the unexpected, nature-can-be-harsh ending. The ant in red socks sometimes makes comments and often gets distracted. Facts about different animals and plants have been well chosen to spark curiosity, with sentences arranged informally around the colorful, engaging, and often comical plants and animals. Reading in this random order works well until the penultimate page, where an unfinished sentence along a thin, pink road leads to the next page’s dark punchline. This comes as something of a narrative sucker punch after this lighthearted journey that’s allowed readers to become fond of these insect characters.

Natural selection lite? (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65208-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A solid addition to Rotner’s seasonal series. Bring on summer.

HELLO WINTER!

Rotner follows up her celebrations of spring and autumn with this look at all things winter.

Beginning with the signs that winter is coming—bare trees, shorter days, colder temperatures—Rotner eases readers into the season. People light fires and sing songs on the solstice, trees and plants stop growing, and shadows grow long. Ice starts to form on bodies of water and windows. When the snow flies, the fun begins—bundle up and then build forts, make snowballs and snowmen (with eyebrows!), sled, ski (nordic is pictured), skate, snowshoe, snowboard, drink hot chocolate. Animals adapt to the cold as well. “Birds grow more feathers” (there’s nothing about fluffing and air insulation) and mammals, more hair. They have to search for food, and Rotner discusses how many make or find shelter, slow down, hibernate, or go underground or underwater to stay warm. One page talks about celebrating holidays with lights and decorations. The photos show a lit menorah, an outdoor deciduous tree covered in huge Christmas bulbs, a girl next to a Chinese dragon head, a boy with lit luminarias, and some fireworks. The final spread shows signs of the season’s shift to spring. Rotner’s photos, as always, are a big draw. The children are a marvelous mix of cultures and races, and all show their clear delight with winter.

A solid addition to Rotner’s seasonal series. Bring on summer. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3976-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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