Beautiful if not quite perfect.

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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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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