An attractively designed and informative introduction to a fascinating amphibian full of strange surprises.

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THE MYSTERY OF DARWIN'S FROG

In an engaging blend of biology and history, frog scientist Crump tells the story of how we have come to know what we do about one of the world’s most unusual frogs.

The frog was first discovered by Charles Darwin in Chile in 1834 and later named for him. In 1848, a French zoologist found that one of Darwin’s specimens was packed full of tadpoles. Scientists were baffled by this surprise. Was the frog a cannibal or a rare species that gave birth to live young instead of laying eggs? Crump explains how scientists eventually discovered that males of the species hold tadpoles safe in their vocal sacs until the polliwogs metamorphose into froglets. The latest mystery scientists are trying to unravel about Darwin’s frog is the cause of a lethal fungus that may drive the species to extinction. The author also shares her firsthand experiences studying Darwin’s frog in their natural habitat. The eye-catching volume is illustrated with color photographs, detailed artistic renderings of the frog by Jenkins, and ink-and-watercolor portraits of the various human personalities involved by Rodriguez, making its creation as collaborative as science itself.

An attractively designed and informative introduction to a fascinating amphibian full of strange surprises. (glossary, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-864-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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