A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

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TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive.

THE DAWN OF PLANET EARTH

From the Prehistoric Field Guides series

A chatty lungfish leads a quick tour of life’s evolution, from Earth’s formation to the appearance of early mammals in the Triassic Period.

“Hi. My name is Ackerley. I’m an Acanthostega.” Following introductions and quick peeks at fossilization and continental drift, the colorfully mottled narrator highlights or at least mentions around a dozen extinct creatures. These range from millipedes “the size of crocodiles” and Opabinia—“If there were a prize for The Weirdest Creature That Ever Lived, Opabinia would be a hot favorite”— to the shrewlike Megazostrodon. Though rendered in close, sharp relief, usually with mouths threateningly open (at least for those animals with visible mouths), Minister’s page-filling, digitally modeled figures often sport a shiny, plastic look. The artificiality extends to an obtrusive absence of blood and gore despite attacks and toothy chomping aplenty here and also in the co-published Dinosaurs Rule. Moreover, both volumes share substantial passages of boilerplate and mention animals that have no corresponding portraits. The closing recaps and indexes are likewise incomplete.

Chewy fare for fans of polysyllabic monikers but not a top-shelf prospect in the struggle to survive. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-6348-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents.

WALKING HOME TO ROSIE LEE

A Southern novelist looks to the Civil War’s immediate aftermath in this newly free child’s account of a weary search for his mother.

“War’s over. Government say we free. Folks be on the move. Getting the feel for freedom. Not me.” He joins the large number of ex-slaves who, “all hope and hurry on,” have hit the road in search of brighter futures, but young Gabe has a different goal: tracking down his sold-away and only living parent Rosie Lee. Keeping his goal before him like the fixed North Star, he travels for months from Mobile to the “worn-down toes of the Appalachian Mountains,” following vague leads from sympathetic listeners and offices of the Freedman’s Bureau, enduring hardships and disappointment. Applying paint in thickly brushed impasto, Shepherd views Gabe’s world and encounters from a child’s-eye height but gives the barefoot, raggedly clad boy a look of hard-won maturity that points to past sorrows and underscores the depth of his determination. His distinct voice will draw readers into caring about his quest and sharing the tide of joy that accompanies his ultimate success: “That night, I slept snuggled up tight with my mama, praying for all those boys like me searching for their mamas who be searching for them.”

A deeply felt narrative, distilled from contemporary reports and documents. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933693-97-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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