A de-tail-ed look at an important adaptation across species.

READ REVIEW

ANIMAL TAILS

A fascinating up-close look at the many uses animals have for their tails.

Frogs and toads start out with tails that help them swim but lose them as they grow and move to living on land. Deer use their tails as flags to warn others of danger. Beavers do this as well, plus they use their wide tails to steer, store fat, and balance. Everyone knows that a skunk’s lifted tail is a sign of imminent trouble, and the prehensile tails of opossums help them grasp tree branches. When it’s cold, a fox uses its bushy tail as a blanket. Muskrats and birds use their tails as rudders to help them steer, one through water, the other through the sky. And porcupines and bees use their tails for defense. Holland’s photos are a highlight, filling three-quarters of each page and sometimes including inset pictures—of the skunk’s rear with tail raised and of the beaver in midslap. Readers can see individual hairs and feathers and will want to curl up with the adorable fox. But two photographed animals have no accompanying text: the red squirrel on the cover and the snake in the opening spread. The “For Creative Minds” section in the back invites readers to match animals to their tails and describes the tail adaptations of flying squirrels, salamanders, fireflies, bats, and otters. A Spanish-language edition, Las colas de los animales, publishes simultaneously.

A de-tail-ed look at an important adaptation across species. (Informational picture book 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62855-976-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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