Challenges galore for young eco-crusaders, presented in an inventive format.

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PLANET SOS

A gallery of civilization-threatening “modern monsters,” from Smogosaurus and the forest-chewing Logre to Acid Rain Spirits and Nuclear Jinns.

These menaces are modeled on or at least inspired by creatures from pop culture or world folklore—Trash Kong, for instance, is joined by the Noisybird, loosely related to the similarly nine-headed Jiu Tou Niao of Chinese tradition, and the E-Waste Golem. Each one steps up in turn to boast of its destructive habits and potential and comes with an inset “Monster Card” featuring arrays of icons (interpreted on a key that can be folded out for ready reference) indicating activities that will promote, or hinder, further damage to our planet. The monsters are all created or (more commonly) abetted by human agency, and though many acknowledge anxiously that efforts are being made to check their depredations, Rohde urgently makes the case at beginning and end that there is still plenty of work to be done. The monsters themselves, which are largely rendered as diaphanous or semi-abstract shapes in various transparent hues with stylized, geometric faces, come across as more pretty than dangerous looking, and the fold-out world “Monster Map” at the end conveys a misleading impression that they are mostly localized threats rather than ubiquitous ones. Still, even younger readers will understand that each poses a real danger.

Challenges galore for young eco-crusaders, presented in an inventive format. (glossary, source list, index) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-912920-22-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Go adventuring with a better guide.

50 ADVENTURES IN THE 50 STATES

From the The 50 States series

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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