A refreshingly original exploration of a physical process both common and important in the natural world.

WAIT, REST, PAUSE

DORMANCY IN NATURE

Plants and animals have many different ways to enter dormancy, using minimal energy when weather extremes or seasonal changes require a pause.

Many books for young children address the concept of hibernation, but Atkins develops the concept further, introducing the many different forms dormancy takes. Her simple, second-person text asks readers to imagine being a tree, ladybug, Arctic ground squirrel, chickadee, or alligator in cold weather or an earthworm in a drought. She describes the situation that leads to a timeout, repeating the line, “You would pause,” then tells what happens next: Leaves unfurl, ladybugs “wiggle awake,” ground squirrels’ heartbeats “quicken,” chickadees fly, alligators come out to sun themselves, and earthworms “moisten [their] skin…and squirm.” She makes clear that this resting state may last anywhere from a few hours to a season. Large, close-up photographs from various sources show the trees and animals and the weather conditions that prompt these activities. Helpful backmatter explains the different forms of dormancy, including diapause, hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation, for older readers. Here, the author gives further detail about dormancy in volcanoes as well as seeds and deciduous trees, and she mentions that, contrary to popular knowledge, some scientists use the word “torpor” to describe bears in winter. The attractive design uses display type to highlight the action words.

A refreshingly original exploration of a physical process both common and important in the natural world. (further reading, photo acknowledgments) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6192-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

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. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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