A lyrical evocation of an essential natural cycle.

The long and busy life of a tree, from one small seed that beats the odds to a fertile locale for another, later one to grow.

Booth begins with a tiny, windblown Douglas fir seed and follows its history from seedling on—through years of damage from storms and cold, drought and fire that leave it “wounded, worn, twisted, torn”—but at every stage nurturing the lives around it by providing places for birds and butterflies to rest, for spiders to spin their webs, and for woodpeckers to excavate nesting cavities that later shelter other wildlife. Even after the tree finally falls, its story doesn’t end, for it becomes home to fungi, insects, earthworms, and microscopic creatures. The author discusses this steady, long-term “nutrient cycling” more specifically in her afterword and closes with a nod to the past and present efforts of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, where this tale is set, to sustainably “steward, restore, and diversify forests.” In close-up views, Fizer Coleman poses meticulously detailed pine forest flora and fauna near, on, and inside an increasingly battered, mossy trunk that stands in one scene amid logged stumps of straighter trees and finally lies as a brown bed beneath a tiny, needled successor. “One day this tree will fall / and this story will end. / Won’t it?” Readers will come away with a more perspicuous answer to that pointed question, which opens the book. (This review was updated for factual accuracy.)

A lyrical evocation of an essential natural cycle. (glossary, source list) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781534496965

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024


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


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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