From the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series

A solid contribution to the venerable series, offering an unusual mix of history and science.

An account of the “Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” of 1888, with explanations of how blizzards form and are forecast.

Though Zoehfeld mentions blizzards elsewhere, she focuses on the Midwest, where, she writes, they are “among the worst in the world.” Her description of the January 1888 storm certainly supports the claim (even though she doesn’t go into death tolls or particular tragedies). She follows up with explanations of how warm and cold fronts clash, what happens to the water vapor carried in air masses as temperatures change, how meteorologists predict storms (and what exactly defines a “blizzard”—it involves wind speed, duration, and visibility conditions), and finally safety precautions to take until it’s time to go play in the snow. All very reassuring. She also gives readers a taste of specific technical terms such as “condensation” and “deposition” and offers instructions for keeping a weather log and one other simple activity. Along with maps and diagrams, Frost provides simply drawn scenes of a semirural cluster of log cabins, populated by white families in the 19th century but giving way in occasional anachronistically placed illustrations and on later pages to a similar but more inclusive neighborhood with at least one interracial couple.

A solid contribution to the venerable series, offering an unusual mix of history and science. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-248473-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017


From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

Close Quickview