Sweet—really: Animal lovers will find much to appreciate here, and report writers are well served.

THE SECRET LIFE OF THE SKUNK

Maligned and malodorous…but oh, so interesting.

Skunks may not be everyone’s favorites, but they are fascinating. They live cozily in dark burrows deep underground. Kits, born while the weather is still cold, are fed and well protected by their mothers; as summer approaches, the youngsters emerge outside with “Mom” under cover of darkness and begin to forage independently. With fall’s arrival, they prepare for winter dormancy. As for those noxious aromas that make for skunks’ off-putting reputation? Before relying on their ultimate weapon, skunks actually give predators and other mischief-makers a variety of advance warnings. Readers may be surprised to learn that the unwelcome sprays of smelly musk are given off only when other warnings go unheeded; afterward, unfortunate would-be attackers have learned not to target this prey again. The smoothly written, gentle narrative explores the life of a family from birth in early spring to the kits’ independence in late fall. Unfamiliar vocabulary is italicized; definitions appear in a glossary. The endearing digital illustrations, embellished in aqua crayon, have the chalky appearance of oil pastels, which highlights the skunks’ furriness. The primarily dark backgrounds, softened with some bright touches, effectively cast the skunks’ black-and-white coats into sharp relief, the deep shades also reinforcing the striped creatures’ nocturnal existence.

Sweet—really: Animal lovers will find much to appreciate here, and report writers are well served. (author’s note, glossary, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-877-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Big and likely to draw a large audience both for its subject and the plethora of interactive doodads.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF ANIMALS

An outsized overview of animal types, senses, and common characteristics liberally endowed with flaps, pull-tabs, and like furbelows.

Della Malva’s realistically drawn animals crowd sturdy leaves large enough to feature life-size (or nearly so) images of the folded wings of a sea gull and a macaw, and Baumann fills the gaps between with meaty descriptive comments. On every page elements that lift, unfold, pop up, or spin aren’t just slapped on, but actively contribute to the presentation. On a “Birth and Growing” spread, for instance, each of six eggs from ostrich to platypus is a flap with an embryo beneath; a spinner presents a slideshow of a swallowtail’s life cycle from egg to adult; and no fewer than three attached booklets expand on the general topic using other species. Subsequent spreads cover animal sight, hearing, body coverings, grasping and touch, locomotion, and—centering on a startling gander down the pop-up maw of a wolf—eating. The animals and relevant body parts are all clearly labeled, and the text is pitched to serve equally well both casual browsers (“Even fish pee!”) and young zoologists seriously interested in the difference between “scales” and “scutes” or curious about the range of insect-mouth shapes.

Big and likely to draw a large audience both for its subject and the plethora of interactive doodads. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-281-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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