OVER AND UNDER THE RAINFOREST

A child-and-caregiver pair hike through the South American rainforest, observing animals in their natural habitats.

The “symphony of sound” up in the trees prompts the child narrator to ask what lives above. Tito answers that above them is “a whole hidden world” where monkeys, insects, and birds live. As they hike along the trail, each spread shows specific animals “up in the trees” and “down in the forest,” doing what they do best. Oropendolas “gurgle in low-swinging nests”; a parrot snake hunts frogs on the trail. The child and Tito climb to a hanging bridge that crosses the river; beneath them, crocodiles bask in the sun and an emerald basilisk skims the water’s surface while they walk “eye to eye with capuchin monkeys” swinging through branches. The afternoon brings rain and a snack of dried fruit. The evening brings new sounds to the forest as dark settles in and the child and Tito leave the last bridge, heading home, where Abuelita and a supper of arroz con pollo await. The colorful, matte illustrations alternate views of the ground, the sky, the river, and the treetops from various vantage points; close-ups and silhouettes of animals in action channel the mystery and magic of the natural world. Part outdoor adventure, part animal nonfiction book, this exciting blend will delight children interested in fact and fiction. Extensive endnotes offer more information about the animals. The only humans pictured are Tito and the narrator, both characters of color.

Draws you right in. (author’s note, further reading, sources) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6940-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners.

THE MESS THAT WE MADE

The cadences of a familiar nursery rhyme introduce concerns about ocean garbage and what we, who made the mess, can do to help clean it up.

With the rhyme and meter of “The House That Jack Built,” Lord builds the problem of plastic waste in the oceans from the fish that must swim through it to a netted seal, a trapped turtle, and overflowing landfills before turning to remedies: cleaning beaches and bays, reducing waste, and protesting the use of fishing nets. Two pages of backmatter describe problems in more detail, while a third elaborates potential solutions; suggestions for individual action are provided as well. Blattman’s images begin with a racially diverse group of youngsters in a small boat in the center of a plastic trash gyre. The children, shown at different angles, bob spread by spread over trash-filled waters. To accompany the words, “Look at the mess that we made,” she adds a polluted city skyline and a container ship belching smoke to the scene. Finally, the dismayed young boaters reach a beach where a clean-up is in process. From their little skiff they help scoop up trash, rescue the turtle, and wave protest signs. The message is important, even vital in today’s world, but many caregivers and many environmentalists would eschew this doomful approach as a means of introducing environmental concerns to the early-elementary audience who might be drawn in by the nursery rhyme.

Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners. (map) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947277-14-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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