A lightly done but compelling explanation of symbiosis among environment, animals, and plants that will appeal to science...




The Sonoran Desert in the Southwestern U.S. is home to the majestic saguaro cactus, which has the unique property of  only flowering once a year.

This book explores the creatures and plants that make up the unique desert ecosystem that is supported by this extraordinary plant. Hawthorne’s clean, elegant watercolor illustrations depict in striking detail a variety of flora and fauna, including the grasshopper mouse, which can stand on its hind legs and howl; the Gila woodpecker, which nests inside the cactus; a variety of insects; and the lesser long-nosed bat. The illustrations effectively convey the drama of the big-sky terrain and anticipation of the night flowering. “The desert wakes up as the temperature cools. / Animals search for the precious first bloom.” The process is described in aabb quatrains, which, although of uneven quality and sometimes loosely rhymed, help to direct readers’ eyes to what is happening on the spreads. More information about some of the creatures is shown in a closing spread along with an illustrated description of the life cycle of the saguaro.

A lightly done but compelling explanation of symbiosis among environment, animals, and plants that will appeal to science and visual arts enthusiasts alike. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0616-6

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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