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

READ REVIEW

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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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.

WOLF PUPS JOIN THE PACK

From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one.

MY FIRST KITTEN

From the My First series

Kitten care presented early-reader style.

“Something soft and furry / Is coming home with me. // It is my new kitten. / She is as sweet as can be!” First-person, easy-reading text describes meeting the kitten, feeding the kitten, playing with the kitten, then taking it to the vet and keeping it safe. The first half of this volume is presented in rhyme with Wachter's photos of real children of various races and their kittens (always the same kitten-and-child pairings) imposed on simple cartoon backgrounds. On other pages, photos of kittens (all cute as the dickens) leaping, scratching, running, and sleeping appear against similar backgrounds. The second half reiterates the same information but in more detail. It passes on instructions in simple language for tasks like introducing a kitten to its litter box and interpreting the sounds and body language of your new furry friend. Jumping the species barrier, Biscuit creator Capucilli does a fine job of instructing young, new pet owners in the care of their wee feline friends in this companion to My First Puppy (2019). This helpful guidebook ends with a message encouraging aspiring young pet friends to adopt from shelters. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85.7% of actual size.)

Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7754-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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