THE SEA, THE STORM, AND THE MANGROVE TANGLE

In a beautiful, lush tribute to mangroves, the artwork lures the reader right into the midst of the scenery. A seed from a mangrove tree floats on the sea until it comes to rest on the shore of a faraway lagoon where, over time, it becomes a mangrove island that shelters many birds and animals even during a hurricane. And the cycle begins again. While the message is clear, it is the splendid, realistic illustrations of marine life akin to the author’s near classic The Great Kapok Tree (1990) that generate appreciation and awareness of the endangered mangroves. The only trees that can grow in salty seawater, they are being damaged by proliferating shrimp farms and tourist sites—Miami Beach used to be a mangrove island. The author’s note explains how beneficial they are and makes a plea to save the mangroves by writing support letters. Despite the idea that the creatures that find a home in, on, or under the tree speak in first person, this is an ecology lesson, a teacher’s aide, and a gratifying nature story. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-36482-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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REACHING FOR THE MOON

In first-person voice, Aldrin highlights points from his childhood that led to his dream of being an astronaut and making the historic moon landing. Coincidental details like his mother’s maiden name, “Moon,” and his favorite movie hero, the “Lone Ranger,” suggest clues to his destiny. After West Point, he joined the Air Force because “he wanted to fly more than anything.” Minor’s usual beautiful and realistic illustrations effectively convey spatial perspectives and movement, adding depth to the narrative. However, the cover design and type layout are confusing, indicative of a biography instead of an autobiography—a brief intro could have clarified it. Aldrin’s message in an author’s note avows, “If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed.” Pair this with Don Brown’s One Giant Step for a child’s-eye view on space exploration. (Flight/space exploration chronology) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-055445-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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