An imperfect introduction to the night world.

MAMA, WHAT IS THE NIGHT?

A young protagonist asks various nocturnal creatures the same question: What is the night?

The earthworms don’t seem sure how to answer, presumably because they live underground and can’t tell the difference between day and night. The same is true of jellyfish, who have no brains; the octopus, who experiences the world through touch rather than sight; and bats, who use their senses of hearing and smell to navigate the dark world. Other creatures, however, have more distinctive answers. The owl, for example, defines night as a time to hunt for prey, while the night-blooming cereus defines night as the time to bloom (unsurprisingly), and fireflies define night as a time to find their friends. The best definition comes from the brown-skinned, curly-haired protagonist’s mother, who defines night as a time for enjoyment and love of all kinds. The book’s rhyming text is heartwarming, but the verse often feels clunky and repetitive. The layout is confusing, as the text is both set in a clear type on a separate page and woven, sometimes in a hard-to-read decorative type, into the illustrations, which do little to extend the text. However, the premise of the story is sweet and clever, and it serves as an effective vehicle for introducing young readers to nocturnal creatures. Additionally, the story exposes children to the idea of multiple perspectives, which is a cornerstone of learning about empathy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An imperfect introduction to the night world. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-93-5046-944-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tulika/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.

CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES

From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.

SHARKBLOCK

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: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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