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


From the If Animals Disappeared series

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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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

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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More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.


From the Over and Under series

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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