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A crashing success.

The buildup and arrival of a wild thunderstorm offers both eye-widening drama and lessons in atmospheric phenomena.

Three gracefully posed children, the eldest slightly darker-skinned than the younger pair, and a trio of goats cavort over island hills until a squall rises in the distance and sweeps violently in before they then venture outside again to enjoy a world made “dazzling, / sparkling, / fresher.” Blending paper collage and digital paint, MacKay artfully captures the changing light on steep meadows as a “blue-forever day” gradually darkens under heavy, windswept clouds that “hover over, / tower, / loom, / then… // ZAP! CLAP! BOOM!” before at last melting away to leave a sunny, washed world. For the story behind the storm, Salas switches from free verse to prose in the backmatter to explain in specific detail how cumulus clouds, various kinds of lightning, and thunder are produced before closing with leads to useful weather-related sites, books, and even time-lapse videos on the web. Arthur Geisert’s Thunderstorm (2013) portrays a more massive tempest as a rural catastrophe; here, the swirling wind, torrential rain, and crashes of lightning are seen as a safely exciting but brief interlude in an otherwise serene setting. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A crashing success. (selected sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0225-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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