Poor Earth. It’s stuck with us.



This picture book challenges children to imagine the Earth as it exists now in a future without humans.

Coy opens his provocative thought experiment by reminding readers, “People need water to live. / We need air to breathe. / We need plants to survive. / But do they need us?” Without humans, infrastructure would begin to break down. “Lightning strikes would cause fires that would burn uncontrolled.” The air and water would become cleaner. Between erosion and unchecked nature, humanity would eventually become a dim planetary memory. Capannelli’s accompanying watercolors depict graffiti-tagged overpasses hung about with blossoming vines, a tree sprouting through a factory’s chimney, the skeletal frames of suburban homes ablaze, the rubble of a long-vacant classroom. Birds and animals roam these places freely. Coy closes by declaring that air, plants, and water don’t “need us,” but we “absolutely” need air, plants, and water. “And because we do, / we must take care, / in all the ways we can, / so we’re here on Earth together / now / and in the future." Coy’s persuasive strategy is weak. Earth without humans is so clearly better off it’s hard to imagine children will be anything but profoundly discouraged by this book. A closing note headed “What Can We Do?” encourages readers broadly to reduce consumption and embrace the outdoors but ultimately fails to empower.

Poor Earth. It’s stuck with us. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2357-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.


An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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