Careless, bland, superficial work unlikely to light or nourish interest in the topic.

ANIMALS AT NIGHT

From the Glow in the Dark series

Select galleries of nocturnal and crepuscular creatures in 11 settings, with a 12th on a detachable, glow-in-the-dark foldout poster.

The whole production has a slapdash air, as the dusk-to-dawn scenes shift arbitrarily from a generic cityscape with five animal foragers (plus the sole human figure here, a dark-skinned child staring at an outsized raccoon opening a garbage can) to an unnamed tropical rainforest, then an Australian beach, the “Outback,” a woodland vaguely located in North America, and on…finishing with a small poster labeled “Deep Sea” and teeming with unidentified creatures. Elsewhere the animals (and a few plants, which may confuse readers who take the title literally) are named—some in the narrative, some with a bare label in the illustration, some with a label and descriptive comment: “Badgers,” as Flint ungrammatically observes, “have an excellent sense of smell, sight, and hearing.” Though the author makes frequent mention of predators and prey, there is no chasing or eating to be seen in Li’s static, neatly painted scenes. Recent and more illuminating ventures into night life include Anne Jankélowitch and Delphine Chedru’s Animals at Night (2017), which also has glow-in-the-dark art, and Linda Stanek and Shennen Bersani’s Night Creepers (2017).

Careless, bland, superficial work unlikely to light or nourish interest in the topic. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-540-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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