A fresh tribute to the creative possibilities of letter-form art: stylish and sophisticated.

ANIMOLOGY

THE BIG BOOK OF LETTER ART ALPHABEASTS

A large-format letter-art menagerie from the Australian creator of Spellbound: Making Pictures With the A-B-C (2016).

Coote freely mixes typefaces, sizes, weights, and orientations but uses only the letters in the names of her animals (often repeatedly) to create 36 portraits—each on its own spread and rendered in a different, vivid color scheme. Presented in no discernible order, the animals, ranging from frog to koala, with elk, crab, and Afghan hound, among others, in between, are all composed of elaborate swirls and cascades, from which viewers are invited to pick out the letters with help from typographically consonant captions. While the pictures alone are an eyeful, the rhymed quatrains that accompany each add not only further letter-related prompts, but fresh washes of wit: “The hues of a chameleon / Depend on what she’s kneeling on.” (The emu’s reference to being on a “coat-of-arms” may confuse readers on this end of the Pacific, but a closing page of typographical and natural-history notes, in very tiny type, includes an explanation.) Budding letter detectives who’ve honed their skills on similarly themed outings such as Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich’s magisterial Bembo’s Zoo (2000) or Michael Arndt’s clever Cat Says Meow (2014) will still find their work cut out for them here.

A fresh tribute to the creative possibilities of letter-form art: stylish and sophisticated. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9924917-9-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Melbournestyle Books/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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