A successful balancing act between heralding disaster and promoting change—an informative debut.

READ REVIEW

IF SHARKS DISAPPEARED

Williams guides readers through the multifarious world of sharks and offers a disconcerting glimpse into our world without them.

For approximately 450 million years, sharks have played a role in balancing our oceans’ ecosystems. Following a young ocean enthusiast of color, the text explains that, as predators at the top of their food chain, sharks help maintain the species below them, as they “typically eat sick, slow, or weak prey,” keeping populations healthy and numbers in check. But due to overfishing and other harmful human impacts, more than one-quarter of shark species are approaching extinction—a threat that not only endangers the aquatic ecosystems of which sharks are a part, but could also “spread like a wave…until animals around the globe are affected.” From the beauty of the great white shark to the easy-to-overlook plankton, the cheery illustrations paired with a gently insistent call to action are all the more haunting when they show the bleak future without sharks. The apocalyptic nature of this very real possibility is offset by Williams’ reminder that, for now, sharks are still here—underscored in a gorgeous vertical gatefold depicting a healthy marine ecosystem—and that by remembering the importance of our planet’s trophic reciprocity, readers can keep it that way. Often directly addressing readers in the text, Williams provides an action checklist and bibliography to get them started.

A successful balancing act between heralding disaster and promoting change—an informative debut. (glossary, notes) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-413-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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