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Sweeter than a scratch behind the ears.

A tail-wagging tribute to all the Spikes, Lassies, and other working and companion pooches in our lives.

Judge opens “long ago” (between 50,000 and 20,000 years ago), closes with a portrait gallery of 34 modern breeds, and in between traces the long history of our working association with the canine clan while celebrating the uniquely close and shared ties that have grown up in consequence…to the point that staring into a dog’s eyes produces in both brains oxytocin, the hormone that prompts human mothers to hug their babies. The heartwarming narrative is more than matched by the intense appeal of the cheery, alert, eminently pettable looking four-legged cast in the illustrations—seen willingly pulling sleds, guarding sheep, sniffing out truffles and disease, curled up in laps or in bed, providing guidance or aid to a racially diverse array of people in physical or emotional need, and gazing winningly up at visitors to an animal shelter…not to mention bestowing multiple eager greetings and face licks to smiling children. “In almost every way imaginable, they have cared for us,” the author concludes. “But perhaps the most important thing dogs and humans can share is…love.” Backmatter features profiles of 10 famous canines as well as a timeline, a list of sources, and an author’s note. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweeter than a scratch behind the ears. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781419755446

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A common topic ably presented—with a participatory element adding an unusual and brilliant angle.

To the tune of a familiar ditty, budding paleontologists can march, dig, and sift with a crew of dinosaur hunters.

Modeling her narrative after “Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush,” Lendroth (Old Manhattan Has Some Farms, 2014, etc.) invites readers to add appropriate actions and gestures as they follow four scientists—modeled by Kolar as doll-like figures of varied gender and racial presentation, with oversized heads to show off their broad smiles—on a dig. “This is the way we clean the bones, clean the bones, clean the bones. / This is the way we clean the bones on a warm and sunny morning.” The smiling paleontologists find, then carefully excavate, transport, and reassemble the fossil bones of a T. rex into a museum display. A fleshed-out view of the toothy specimen on a wordless spread brings the enterprise to a suitably dramatic climax, and unobtrusive notes in the lower corners capped by a closing overview add digestible quantities of dino-detail and context. As in Jessie Hartland’s How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum (2011), the combination of patterned text and bright cartoon pictures of scientists at accurately portrayed work offers just the ticket to spark or feed an early interest in matters prehistoric.

A common topic ably presented—with a participatory element adding an unusual and brilliant angle. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62354-104-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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