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From the If Animals Disappeared series

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

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 Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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