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Delightful, tongue in cheek, and compellingly romantic.

The stressful courtship ritual of a male bowerbird, as seen by a young observer.

Satin Bowerbirds are native to Australia, and during mating season the males build elaborate structures on the ground out of natural and found blue materials—buttons, bottle caps, pieces of glass, even socks—to attract females. It is not an easy job—not only are the females picky, but rival males will swoop in at the slightest opportunity to steal the best bits and mess up the rest. Here Gianferrari records the ups and downs of Satin, one such hopeful swain, as he carefully builds and rebuilds his bower, drives off interlopers, and dances enthusiastically when green-feathered Pea, a likely looking prospect, doubtfully lands for a lookie-loo. There’s really nothing for it but to cheer him on. Playing this arduous ritual as a romantic comedy, Wicks depicts Satin looking over his bower with a critical eye, fussing over it, expressing confusion and astonishment when he returns from various forays to find it wrecked, and climactically casting a flirtatious side-eye at Pea as she watches him flapping and high-stepping. A dark-skinned child in the illustrations, watching all of this as raptly as readers will, fills notebooks with sketches and comments and provides a satisfying sense of closure by later spotting Pea in a tree, presiding over a nest full of eggs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Delightful, tongue in cheek, and compellingly romantic. (more information on bowerbirds) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023

ISBN: 9781250849878

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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