Stellar artwork mismatched with weak rhyming verse.



From the A Day In... series

The A Day In… series expands with these snapshots of animal life throughout an entire day in a forested wetland.

Neidigh’s incredibly detailed, realistic illustrations, all double-page spreads, are the real draw here, giving kids up-close views of the animals: the delicate wings of a darner as it captures a mosquito, each leg sporting tiny hairs; a fish’s individual scales; the brown bat’s fearsome-looking teeth. Many of the animals are hunting and/or catching prey; the bobcat carries a rabbit to her kittens. Unfortunately, Kurtz’s text is not a good complement. The rhyme and rhythm frequently seem forced and off. “It’s sunrise in the wetland. / A woodpecker flies from a tree. / She just brought her children breakfast. / They never stop feeling hungry.” A caddisfly’s (nonbifurcated) case is referred to as “armored pants” to rhyme with “plants,” and peepers’ song is compared to the sound of jingle bells. Not all the vocabulary introduced in the text is defined in context (“snag,” “larval,” “mandible”), but other opportunities are bypassed (it explains echolocation without ever using the word); there is no glossary. Backmatter introduces the concept of a keystone species (here a beaver), compares and contrasts the four types of wetlands, and asks readers to identify animals in an illustration from their descriptions. Answers are right-side-up at page bottoms. A Spanish-language edition publishes simultaneously in paperback.

Stellar artwork mismatched with weak rhyming verse. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62855-912-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity


When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.


Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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