For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A whimsical introduction to an unusual mammal.

I AM NOT A PENGUIN

A PANGOLIN'S LAMENT

Most children will not be familiar with pangolins, scaly mammals native to Asia and Africa.

But neither are the animal characters who mix up the pangolin with many other animals. A talkative pangolin introduces his species with a poster. The animals, illustrated in a stylized but realistic manner, seem thoroughly confused by this new creature. In the dryly witty text, the pangolin describes his various attributes but is constantly interrupted by other animals mistaking him for a creature that’s similar in some way. When the pangolin describes curling up into a ball to protect himself, the skunk says: “Oh, I get it! He’s an armadillo.” When penguins are remarked on, the pangolin grows extremely testy. “I AM CERTAINLY NOT A PENGUIN! I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT PENGUINS! THERE ARE NO PENGUINS HERE! ZERO PENGUINS! NOT. ONE. PENGUIN!” And who should stroll in but a surfer penguin, wearing cool sunglasses and leading the pangolin’s audience to the beach. The crestfallen pangolin starts to cancel the presentation, but then a small Asian-presenting child shows up to listen, explaining, “I’m just a kid”—to which the pangolin responds with puzzlement: “Huh. Like a goat?” The pangolin shows sheet after informational sheet to an enthralled audience of one, quiet humor giving way to a small torrent of facts written on mock presentation paper. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

A whimsical introduction to an unusual mammal. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12740-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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