Beautiful if not quite perfect.

READ REVIEW

NIGHT CREEPERS

Meet a few of the mostly North American animals that come out at night.

“Waking up. // Noisy pup. // Flutter high. // Gliding by.” The book works equally well for lap-sitters and older children since these rhyming verses accompany longer paragraphs about each species, here red foxes, gray wolves, bats (it appears to be a lesser long-nosed bat), and flying squirrels, respectively. Others include skunks, opossums, bullfrogs, fireflies, raccoons, owls (a barn owl is pictured), bobcats, and white-tail deer. (Of those, skunks and deer are more crepuscular than nocturnal, as are rabbits, one of which is pictured in the final spread.) The information presented covers food, habitat, family life, and adaptations. Highly detailed, sometimes–hyper-realistic illustrations bring these animals to life for readers, though the bright colors and high contrast don’t always make it clear that it’s nighttime. Three-quarters of each double-page spread is devoted to an up-close look at the animal, and the text, easy to read against the background, is usually decorated with a vignette illustration. Troublingly, the firefly page shows a child inspecting a closed jar of the insects, then a tipped-over jar as they fly away. The lid has no holes. A “For Creative Minds” section introduces further vocabulary and concepts and asks readers to sort several species accordingly. It also identifies several animal adaptations and challenges readers to match species to their eyeshine. A Spanish-language paperback edition, Sigilosos de la noche, publishes simultaneously.

Beautiful if not quite perfect. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60718-322-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.

WOLF PUPS JOIN THE PACK

From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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