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

READ REVIEW

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 beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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