IF YOU WERE AN ELEPHANT

How might readers look, act, and live if they were wild African elephants?

“If you were an elephant, you’d be the biggest animal who lives on the land.” Thus begins the patterned text, with the titular phrase introducing a series of facts every few pages; all are told with a pleasant cadence and occasional rhymes or near rhymes. From the start, the text is engaging and full of whimsical imagery: After the opening text compares elephants’ ears to tent flaps and their thick hides to blankets, it says: “You’d turn the next page with your trunk, not your hand.” Readers learn about other animals of the savanna, herd behaviors, diet, mud baths, and more—along with a plethora of varied verbs and adjectives. The layout and artwork complement the text perfectly. The stylized art uses a broad but soft spectrum of colors and includes geometric patterns in the elephants’ habitat. The elephants themselves are rendered simply in solid colors and sport winsome faces and stances. A particularly clever illustration shows a baby elephant learning from its mother how to stamp warnings on the ground. The large, gray, tusked mother and her pastel, tuskless child are backgrounded by the page’s stark white; they stand high atop a crazy-quilt representation of sound waves. Good as a read-aloud and for emergent readers, it concludes in a way that leads equally gracefully to the author’s notes or bedtime. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Worth a trumpet. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4134-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

MOMMIES ARE AMAZING

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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