Delightful—especially appealing for young readers who have or wish for a puppy.

FIRST FRIEND

HOW DOGS EVOLVED FROM WOLVES TO BECOME OUR BEST FRIENDS

A lyrical exploration of how wolves evolved into dogs.

Thousands of years ago, humans and wolves competed for prey, but gradually some wolves evolved to become the companions of humans. This picture book uses a simple repeating narrative theme to effectively present this evolution. A Stone Age girl meets a wolf pup, and they become friends, but the pup stays with its wolf family as it grows because “everyone knew girls and wolves could not be friends.” Moving forward “years and years” ahead, a boy, now living in a hut of “branches and hides” befriends a wolf pup. Their friendship is closer, but still they separate as they grow. This scenario is repeated twice more, each scenario advancing the evolutionary time frame while cleverly underscoring the enduring constancy of the child-puppy attraction—an attraction that is delightfully played out in the story’s conclusion as well as the wonderful endpapers. The colorful, uncomplicated illustrations follow a pattern in their design that echoes the comfortable rhythm of the narrative—but these are no stodgy presentations. The confident use of light as both definitive highlights and atmosphere gives them a bright, clear, and uplifting buoyancy. A more detailed explanation of the science and history of the wolf-to-dog evolution and a bibliography are contained in the backmatter. All human characters are illustrated with light brown skin and black hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33% of actual size.)

Delightful—especially appealing for young readers who have or wish for a puppy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31343-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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