Overall, a fun read and a smart selection for any elementary nature shelf.

READ REVIEW

SNAILS ARE JUST MY SPEED!

TOON LEVEL 1

From the Giggle and Learn series

Young naturalists will love McCloskey’s look at snails.

In a manner most unsnaillike, McClokey zooms from fact to fact as he informs and entertains readers with information about these surprisingly interesting gastropods. The pacing never feels rushed, however, as the facts transition as smoothly as if on a “road of slimy mucus.” Readers will learn how slowly snails move as compared to other creatures, the advantages of moving slowly, and how they influence the journeys of other snails (spoiler alert: Mucus just may be involved). Fans of The Real Poop on Pigeons (2016) and We Dig Worms (2015) will get a kick out of this latest installment in the fact-based early graphic novel series. The information is paired with colorful cartoon illustrations that toe the line between caricature and surrealism. While the snails are the book’s stars, they are observed by a group of racially diverse children. Savvy educators will appreciate the book’s versatility: It would be the star of an intimate gross-book–themed storytime (due to its relatively small size) or may be used as the inspiration for a pre-K lesson plan on anything from wildlife and nature to gardening to body fluids.

Overall, a fun read and a smart selection for any elementary nature shelf. (Graphic informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943145-27-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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A stilted, if worthy, celebration desperately in need of better writing and art.

BLUE ROUND EARTH

An appreciation of our planet as a protective and nurturing “big house.”

“We all live together in harmony on the land,” writes Lee with rather more lyricism than strict accuracy. The author then goes on to tally our planet’s range of climates and environments, trace the water cycle, describe the atmosphere, and explain why we have seasons. Translation (uncredited) issues aren’t all that hobble this Korean import, but such lines as “On Earth, many things always happen,” and “The air traps the hot solar heat” likely read better in the original. More problematically, the illustrator represents humanity with a crudely drawn, pale-skinned child with dark hair and clownishly heavy red lips; the generic settings teem with equally generic flora and smiling fauna. Also, the schematic view of Earth’s orbit around the sun is hard to parse, as it lacks directional arrows or (aside from a confusingly stylized deciduous tree) seasonal labels. The author restates the “harmony” theme, then closes with “Thank you, Earth!”

A stilted, if worthy, celebration desperately in need of better writing and art. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939248-22-0

Page Count: 30

Publisher: TanTan

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Routine, bottom-shelf fare.

DINOSAURS

Imported from France, a gallery of dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles, animated by pop-ups, spinners, and pull-tabs.

A pair of oversimplifications—that dinosaurs “no longer exist” but “entire skeletons” can be viewed in museums—starts the survey off with a resounding thud. Following this, in a disconnected ramble, topical spreads deal with the science of paleontology, the life cycle of Saltasaurus from egg to adult, defense mechanisms, big dinos, and, for an abrupt close, sea life. Some dinos feature feathers or crests in a low-contrast second color, but most are monochrome and all so simplified in form that, for instance, there’s almost no discernible difference between dull-hued Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, immediately above it. The interactions are no great shakes either. Except for an initial spread-spanning folded flap, the pop-ups are printed on only one side, and the swings of the pull-tab tails of Ankylosaurus and Diplodocus aren’t even slightly realistic. Flora and fauna feel arbitrarily placed, and some feature unhelpfully generic labels such as “school of fish,” or “rodents” rather than actual identifiers. The co-published Firefighters, written by Anne-Sophie Baumann and illustrated by Benjamin Bécue, opens with an exploding building but otherwise offers a similarly flat assortment of general facts and low-rent special effects. In both volumes human figures, where they appear, are diverse in gender presentation, age, and skin color.

Routine, bottom-shelf fare. (Informational pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 979-1-02760-428-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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