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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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

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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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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