This attractive new look at underwater life may inspire diving dreams for both city and country readers.

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CITY FISH, COUNTRY FISH

The familiar contrast between city and country is used to compare the teeming, colorful and diverse world of tropical fishes with the more uniformly colored, less varied and less crowded cold-water world.

Cerullo, who used the city metaphor in her earlier Coral Reef (1995), organizes support for this extension in double-page spreads, contrasting the fish of warmer and cooler bioregions in various ways. She goes beyond number and density to consider such factors as size and shape, coloration, cooperation and specializations. Her interesting text sometimes sits on and sometimes adjoins Rotman’s striking underwater photographs. Species are identified. The perspective often reflects the viewpoint of the photographer-diver—noting, for example, the different colors of the water. A section entitled “How Humans Can Become Fish” describes scuba diving and includes an image of the photographer's wetsuit-clad son with a giant lobster. A final section connects this underwater world to our own. Words in italics are defined in a glossary, which includes important concepts (ecosystems, symbiosis, food web, tropical vs. temperate) and more specialized vocabulary (lateral line, barbel, phytoplankton, chromatophore). The short list of suggested further reading includes more of the author’s writings and not much else, a disappointment in an otherwise informative title.

This attractive new look at underwater life may inspire diving dreams for both city and country readers. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-88448-323-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story.

A HOME FOR GODDESSES AND DOGS

After her mother succumbs to heart disease, 13-year-old Lydia goes to live with her mother’s older sister, Aunt Brat, and her wife, Eileen, in their small Connecticut town.

Almost immediately the loving couple adopts a large rescue dog that becomes mostly Lydia’s responsibility. The unfortunate animal isn’t even housebroken, and Lydia’s most decidedly not a dog person, so caring for Guffer is challenging. So is trying to be cordial—but not too friendly—with her 12 eighth grade classmates. Previously home-schooled, Lydia’s not quite ready for the friend thing. Secrets, like who could have been responsible for maiming two baby goats or why Brat is secretly caring for them at a neighbor’s farm, complicate life. Background plotlines (an angry neighbor who hates Guffer, Lydia’s absent father, and the cause of Guffer’s anxieties) all gradually evolve. Similarly, Lydia slowly learns to cope with her grief, sometimes aided by spending time with “the goddesses”—artistic collages of strong women that she and her mother crafted. Gentle, fully fleshed characters (most seemingly white) are lovingly drawn in this long tale of healing, but the pacing is sometimes frustratingly slow. Although she’s clearly intelligent, Lydia’s first-person narrative often seems more like the voice of an adult than a young teen. In spite of these minor flaws, her poignant tale is engaging and uplifting.

An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story. (Fiction.10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-279678-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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