Solid information for wildlife enthusiasts, enhanced by thoughtful artwork.

HOW TO BE AN ELEPHANT

Elaborate watercolor paintings and scientific diagrams accompany detailed information about African elephants.

The bold, sparse, poetic text that appears intermittently throughout the book clarifies the fact that elephants, like humans, need many years of socialization to become fully realized. The rest of the text is dense and set in two textbooklike columns of reasonably leaded small print. This text goes beyond elephant upbringing, delving into the hows and whys of elephant anatomy. A sophisticated vocabulary and some understanding of basic science are prerequisites for engaging with most of the text. For example: “A bouquet of aromas made of tiny odor molecules travels a few feet up her extra-long nasal cavities to land on supersized nasal folds that are covered with highly sensitive receptor cells.” (Overall, readers might find themselves wishing the sentences were rather shorter.) Some of the final pages give a good summary of elephants and ecology—both local and global. The frequent illustrations are arresting and informative, ranging from broad brush strokes that show elephants in action to the humorous, carefully detailed depiction of a parodied Swiss army knife that demonstrates all the uses of an elephant’s trunk. The newborn baby elephant, surrounded by surprisingly beautiful ribbons of afterbirth material, is a stunning blend of natural science and art.

Solid information for wildlife enthusiasts, enhanced by thoughtful artwork. (author’s note, sources, acknowledgements) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-178-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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It’s broader that it is deep, but it offers both a global view and art to pore over.

OCEAN

SECRETS OF THE DEEP

A dive into the ocean’s wonders, from edge to abyss.

De Amicis’ painted illustrations give this wide-angled survey a strong visual draw, as sea life floats on every page in grand displays of exotic shapes, gracefully angled fins and spikes, tendrils and tentacles, intricate patterns of dots and stripes. We really have just one ocean on this planet, Weiss points out, and we know less about it than we know about the moon or Mars—so she begins by pairing mermaids with manatees, the legendary kraken with the real giant squid, before going on to profile characteristic residents of each oceanic zone from sunlit surface to the dark and eerie world at the bottom of the deepest trenches. She then surveys local habitats from polar seas to salt marshes, glides past diverse topics from symbiosis and other relationships to sea creatures that change sexes, and, after glances at climate change, “plastic soup,” and other threats, closes with a set of basic principles of environmental care. Each marine creature on view is identified and accurately depicted, with occasional small silhouettes of humans or other animals to provide a sense of relative scale.

It’s broader that it is deep, but it offers both a global view and art to pore over. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9999680-7-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Excellent information presented in a frustrating and distracting jumble.

TOP DOGS

TRUE STORIES OF CANINES THAT MADE HISTORY

Dogs have played a role in human history for eons.

MacLeod provides coverage on eight doggy themes arranged chronologically: Seaman, the Newfoundland that accompanied Lewis and Clark; Pekinese dogs’ connection with Chinese royalty; dogs that served in World War I; Togo and Balto and their lifesaving trek across the Alaskan tundra with diphtheria antitoxin; the first American guide dog, Buddy; dogs that served in World War II; bomb-sniffing dogs, including Brandy, who found explosives on a jet in 1972; and search-and-rescue dogs, especially those that served on 9/11. A plethora of excellent photographs accompanies the engaging text. Unfortunately, a profusion of text boxes, sidebars, and other interruptions breaks up the stories. Page-sized featurettes on a yellow background headed “Dog Data” primarily focus on the history of dogs and their natural characteristics. Small pullouts entitled “Woof!” contain brief, miscellaneous tidbits that usually, but not always, relate to the topic at hand. The chapter on World War II dogs also includes: a section on modern war dogs; a Woof! on a border collie that scares birds away from a Michigan airport; boxes on both mythological Cerberus and a dog that defended a Persian city in 456 B.C.E.; and a World War I photo.

Excellent information presented in a frustrating and distracting jumble. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-907-1

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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