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A brimming compendium that inventively mixes facts, poetry, and humor.

In personified mask poems, animals boast about their claims to distinctions like biggest, strongest, and longest-tongued.

Together comprising a guessing game for readers, each short, rhyming verse is accompanied by a teaser illustrating part of the animal’s body. A page turn reveals each animal in its habitat along with its distinguishing “best” and a concise paragraph packed with well-chosen facts. After introducing three of the fastest animals—the cheetah, pronghorn, and peregrine falcon—Ashman spotlights the three-toed sloth in a witty poem called “Slowpoke.” “Although I know / I’m very slow / (the pokiest around), / I take first prize, / Endurance-wise, / For time spent upside down.” This tree-dwelling “SLOWEST Mammal” moves so little that greenish algae grow on its fur, helping to camouflage it from predators. Birds, fish, land and marine mammals, and reptiles are covered, and among renowned greats like the giraffe (“TALLEST animal”) and blue whale (“BIGGEST Animal Ever”), Ashman includes several fascinating, lesser-known species. Casting the white-spotted puffer fish as “BEST Undersea Artist,” she highlights the males’ extraordinary sand-sculpting. Their “amazing circular designs of hills and valleys more than 20 times their body size” are designed to attract a female, who lays her eggs at the center. Varma’s appealing, digitally composed pictures simplify the animals’ salient features within a naturalistic palette of green, blue, and ocher. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A brimming compendium that inventively mixes facts, poetry, and humor. (information on protecting endangered animals, measurements, and mask poems; websites; recommended reading; glossary) (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781525303500

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

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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