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A bit thin on coverage but exuberant and engaging.

Molds and mushrooms flourish in this introduction to the fungal life cycle.

With a bright palette and vigorous brushwork, illustrator Sudyka portrays exuberant arrays of mushrooms blasting out swirls of spores with a “PUFF!” “PLOP!” “POOF!” or, for the aptly named dog stinkhorn, “PEE-EW!” Then, as author Gianferrari describes how hyphae release enzymes that break down rock and wood into nutrients and minerals—“making / by unmaking”—cross-sectional views reveal underground habitats crowded with roots, rocks, burrowing insects and other wildlife, and fungal threads winding through to create an interactive “wood-wide web.” A second explosion of fruiting bodies, each with an inconspicuous identifying label, leads to a further burst of fungal facts, featuring zombie ants and species that feed on plastic or even (as at Chernobyl) gamma radiation. The author and illustrator stick to land-based species, so marine fungi go unmentioned. Likewise, they draw attention to neither lichens nor (aside from a nod to penicillium) molds, and spores remain just dustlike clouds without any closer looks. Still, readers will come away dazzled by the kingdom’s huge variety of forms and colors, a bit more informed about fungi’s potential uses for industry and waste disposal, and properly warned off from eating any found mushrooms without an expert’s OK. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A bit thin on coverage but exuberant and engaging. (glossary, more information on fungi, diagram of the fungal life cycle, resource lists) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2023

ISBN: 9781665903653

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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