A solid addition to the climate-change canon for those interested in saving a fragile world.

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IF POLAR BEARS DISAPPEARED

Dire consequences attend the unchecked melting of Arctic sea ice.

The more the ice melts, the more the Arctic climate changes. The more that air and ground temperatures rise, the more the frozen ecosystem’s inhabitants, including plants and insects, suffer from dwindling habitats; threats to food sources; and imbalances in feeding, breeding, and migration patterns. Solid information is packed into this brief work that lucidly raises the alarm for young readers, with each spread capturing the thrilling, chilling north in rich, dramatic blue swathes of seawater set off by icy glaciers and snowdrifts. Child-friendly, occasionally cluttered paintings, some with labels, highlight polar bears and their Arctic neighbors; a spread of vignettes illustrates how changes to plant life affect wildlife. One labeled spread explains all: As seawater warms, it absorbs sunlight, thus heating more water and melting more ice. One poignant spread depicts a bewildered polar bear mom, eyeing readers and flanked by her twin cubs, drifting on a shrinking ice floe. Two human children, one brown-skinned and one pale, occasionally appear in the illustrations as well. The book ends on a hopeful note, reassuring youngsters that “we still have time to save polar bears and slow the loss of Arctic ice.” A note in the backmatter offers conservation tips.

A solid addition to the climate-change canon for those interested in saving a fragile world. (author’s note, bibliography, additional sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14319-8

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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