With its elegant layout, gorgeous illustrations, and thoughtful text, this book presents an interesting and focused subject...

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LOVELY BEASTS

THE SURPRISING TRUTH

A larger-than-usual–format picture book reveals a different side to creatures commonly considered dangerous, scary, or creepy.

There are always two sides to a story, and creatures that are often feared or reviled, such as sharks or spiders, have qualities that may not be known to readers—qualities that are cleverly revealed in this thoughtfully designed, beautifully illustrated picture book. The first verso of each four-page sequence features a striking black-and-white illustration of an animal (or insect or arachnid). This is paired on the first recto with a one-word description in a clean sans-serif typeface—for example, the word paired with the spider is “Creepy….” The page turn reveals another word on verso in the same sans-serif typeface that modifies the original description—the spider’s is “crafter”—to highlight another aspect of the creature; below this there is more explanation: Spiders have “many superhero-like qualities” and “spin intricate webs” that are “stronger than steel” for their weight. Smith’s accompanying artwork—now subtly colored, with a cozier, slightly stylized look, and placed on the recto—illustrates the newly revealed characteristic. Gardner’s text doesn’t overwhelm with too much information, just a few well-chosen facts to tempt readers into thoughtful reconsiderations of hyenas, lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, sharks, gorillas, wolves, porcupines, honeybees, octopuses, spiders, and bats.

With its elegant layout, gorgeous illustrations, and thoughtful text, this book presents an interesting and focused subject in an exemplary manner. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274161-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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