At once eye-closing and eye-opening.

A SONGBIRD DREAMS OF SINGING

POEMS ABOUT SLEEPING ANIMALS

Somniferous verses, paired with scientific observations, survey styles of sleep in the animal world.

Firmly in control of language and rhyme schemes but varying tone and tempo as she goes, Hosford marvels at the sleep habits of 18 creatures. These range from sperm whales (“Oh mighty mothers of the sea / Why do you slumber vertically?”) to fire ants (“You didn’t know, perhaps / That this ant takes power naps. / It’s quite a short collapse. / (Sixty seconds will elapse.) / How many naps will there be? / About two hundred and fifty-three.” In the substantial prose glosses that accompany each short poem, she offers further downtime marvels, such as how some whales sleep head up or head down, or even drift between the two positions, and a tale of a desert snail that was exhibited at the British Museum as an empty shell for four years, then successfully revived. Nor does she leave readers in the dark about how some animals rest parts of their brains in succession or the differences among nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular, and cathemeral creatures, covering these facts in an opening author’s note. In Potter’s suitably dreamy, subdued illustrations, floating sea otters hold paws, ocelot cubs nestle in a cozy hollow, a “flamboyance” of flamingos stand one-legged in shallow water, and even an upside-down jellyfish (“It isn’t easy to explain / How she’s so smart / without a brain”) looks drowsy.

At once eye-closing and eye-opening. (glossary) (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6714-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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