This picture book is a pleasure to read and is sure to become the favorite of some future naturalist.

ANIMAL HOMES

From the Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series

Children know that wild animals live outside, and this book offers them the opportunity to see where and learn how they live.

In Holland’s crisp photographs, readers will see animals and their habitats up close and in detail. Each image is bright and clear, revealing impressive amounts of texture. One can imagine the slick foam of the spittle bug’s home, the smooth coat of a black bear, or the coarse nubbling of bark. The very first spread presents a picture of a beaver with webbed feet and remarkably interesting claws that look like human fingernails; it appears as an inset over a full-bleed, spread-spanning photo of a beaver lodge in an autumn landscape. A few pages in, there is an equally striking shot of a bald-faced hornet and another of an army of tent caterpillars building silk. In total, the book covers 12 animals and insects and would be useful to bring along during a camping trip, a walk through a local park, or even a walk to a favorite neighborhood tree, so that children will have the opportunity to see and perhaps interact with some of the habitats of the animals around them. Four pages of backmatter encourage further engagement with the topic. Holland also carefully introduces new vocabulary to children, folding in such words as “burrow,” “drey,” and “snag” throughout, with explanations within the text. (Due to Covid complications, this book will publish in paperback on pub date and in hardcover in Jan. 2021.)

This picture book is a pleasure to read and is sure to become the favorite of some future naturalist. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64351-750-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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