Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre.



As is true with tiny humans, play is important in young animals’ development.

Judge looks closely at 27 different animals and the playful habits of their young. Sometimes play helps animals learn how to forage and hunt. Other times, it can be practice for following rules. For some, it can even mean survival. Each subtopic is allotted two double-page spreads. In a dramatic setup scene, a large, bold statement declares an observation, such as: “Many young animals ask first before playing.” Judge depicts one young chimp approaching another that is cradled in mom’s embrace. A smattering of vignettes follows in the next spread. “A young chimpanzee swings his head and shoulders from side to side….That is his way of asking his friend, ‘Do you want to play with me?’ ” However, a sea lion pup “approaches another while holding a piece of kelp that serves as a toy, then quickly swims away.” Kids will delight in comparing their own actions to those of the baby animals. The variety is also impressive: Red river hogs cavort in these pages, along with bottlenose dolphins and wallaby joeys. Judge’s realistic illustrations are both endearing and expressive. Energetic moments are expertly captured. Tufts of fur fly; young ones are caught midpounce or with trunks held high, sending water splashing. The most appealing? The mischievous gleam of fun in everyone’s eyes.

Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre. (additional facts, glossary, sources, recommended websites) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23706-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.


From the Block Books series

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope.


From the What If Everybody? series

Thinking mean-spirited thoughts can be just as damaging as saying them out loud.

Javernick and Madden pair up once again (What If Everybody Did That?, 2010 and What If Everybody Said That?, 2018), this time to address bullying in a school setting. One hopes that all schools are diverse with regard to both culture and ability, but it can be difficult to help students see beyond differences. Javernick poses scenarios in which children exhibit varying physical disabilities, learning disabilities, medical conditions, and more. A group of children is often depicted scrutinizing one (four taller kids in gym class look to a shorter one, thinking, “He’s too little to play basketball” and “He’ll NEVER get that ball in the hoop”) as the titular phrase asks, “What if EVERYBODY thought that?” The following spread reads, “They might be wrong” as vignettes show the tiny tot zipping around everyone and scoring. If one sees someone using a wheelchair and automatically thinks, “Too bad she can’t be in the relay race”—well, “they might be wrong.” The (literal) flipside offered to each scenario teaches children to be aware of these automatic assumptions and hopefully change perceptions. Madden’s mixed-media illustrations show a diverse array of characters and have intentional, positive messages hidden within, sometimes scratched in chalk on the ground or hanging up in a frame on a classroom wall.

Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9137-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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