TOGO & BALTO

THE DOGS WHO SAVED A TOWN

From the Animalographies series

An engaging hero’s journey but one that’s light on meaningful details and context.

The true story of two dogs who were part of a mission to bring lifesaving serum to a remote Alaskan town.

In January 1925, the town of Nome, Alaska, was hit by diphtheria, a deadly disease. The nearest source of serum was 674 miles away and only accessible by dog sled. Thanks to hardworking dog teams, a trip that would normally take 25 days only took six. Togo, the 12-year-old Siberian husky and pack leader who ran the longest leg of the journey, tells his story as well as that of 6-year-old sled dog Balto, who famously led the final sled team into Nome. In providing a brief history of sled dogs, Parachini notes that they were originally used to draw sleds that transported mail and travelers and that conveyed miners to Alaska’s gold fields. She also mentions that “for many years Alaska Natives such as the Athabascans, Inuit, and Yuit used dogs as pack animals to carry heavy loads,” but aside from this, Indigenous people are erased from the narrative. The digitally rendered illustrations depict a predominantly White community and center Togo’s owner, Leonhard Seppala, a White Norwegian immigrant. Brief backmatter includes dog sled commands and a note detailing the qualities that make huskies good sled dogs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An engaging hero’s journey but one that’s light on meaningful details and context. (Informational picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0382-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

BUTT OR FACE?

A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

MORE THAN PEACH

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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