Somewhat limited in scope but full of opportunities for participation.




Fifteen animals introduce themselves and their behaviors.

After each, youngsters are encouraged to talk or act like them. Readers meet creatures that run, slither, swim, fly; they might live in a tropical forest, in Antarctica, or in a river or ocean. Each one is known for a unique, sometimes peculiar, habit. The Table of Contents provides a list of antics to come: howl like a wolf, slide like a penguin, sing like a whale. Many animals will be recognizable to children, but one or two may be unfamiliar, such as the bowerbird, which builds an elaborate nest, decorates it with found objects, and dances and sings to lure a prospective mate. Critters are captured in rich, matte colors; environments are somewhat representational, such as the acid-yellow desert the rattlesnake occupies. In the concluding section of each brief chapter, one or two members of a diverse cast of children demonstrate the activities that emulate the animal in question. Some of these are easier to enact than others (some require a great deal of room and water), but wild things who learn best by doing will appreciate the imaginative play. Serious naturalists will regret the absence of standardized facts, such as habitat/region and size, as well as suggestions for additional reading, but this is all about the action. As a bonus, masks can be downloaded from the publisher’s website.

Somewhat limited in scope but full of opportunities for participation. (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61212-905-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Storey Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.



A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.


From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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