A captivating story.

A true, heart-tugging tale about an injured baby elephant.

Animal rescuer Nick Marx first encountered Chhouk (Khmer for “lotus”) wandering in a forest in Cambodia in 2007. A wire snare had cut off one of the tiny animal’s front feet. The elephant was brought to Nick’s rescue center, where the humans faced two daunting problems: Would Chhouk ever walk normally? And what about the orphan’s loneliness? The second dilemma was easily solved: Lucky, an older female elephant, accepted Chhouk as her own. But Chhouk’s foot hurt when he tried to walk with her. Clearly, something needed to be done. Nick called doctors and makers of animal prostheses in Thailand and Cambodia to no avail. Finally, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, established to serve human victims of armed conflict, agreed to try. After several attempts, Chhouk was successfully fitted with a new, durable, comfortable shoe. Today, a teenage Chhouk requires and receives a new shoe every six months. This sweet, simply told story will capture animal lovers’ hearts and sympathy. The endearing, cartoonish illustrations depict a sweet-faced, often smiling Chhouk; his injured foot is presented without gore. Nick presents white; the rescue and medical team members have brown skin. Marx himself contributes a foreword; the backmatter includes elephant facts, photos of Chhouk, and an author’s note.

A captivating story. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-26687-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020



A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


From the Kid Scientist series

A highly simplified but inviting overview of marine biology.

What do marine biologists do?

To answer that question, Fliess focuses on fieldwork, certainly the most glamorous part of the job. After months of research, Maggie, a Black marine biologist, and her racially diverse team dive into the ocean to swim with humpback whales. They each have a different task, related to their personal research questions, and they’ve each brought different tools. The straightforward text offers general information about humpback whales, including migration, whale song, the use of fluke-slapping as an alarm signal, and diet (krill), as well as the importance of a hypothesis, part of the scientific method. At the conclusion of their research, the team members free a young whale calf trapped in a fishing net—an episode likely to appeal to young readers and listeners as well as a subtle reminder of the problem of trash in our waters. Depicting characters with round, oversize heads, Powell’s illustrations make the dive look both easy and fun, with scenes underwater and in the lab. One final spread includes relevant labels on images (flukes, dorsal ridge, plankton). Backmatter provides general information on marine biologists, what they do, and how to train to be one. There’s also a quick review of how Maggie and her group’s actions correspond to the scientific method. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A highly simplified but inviting overview of marine biology. (suggested reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4158-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Close Quickview