A promising first entry in a new series of picture books introducing iconic mammals to young readers with a sense of humor.

READ REVIEW

THE TRUTH ABOUT HIPPOS

From the Truth About... series

Fast facts about hippopotamuses embedded in cartoons.

Appealing cartoon illustrations of talking animals, a slim story about a lost calf, and an even slimmer joke about hippos riding bikes enliven this basic introduction to the hippopotamus family. Eaton identifies the two main species, common and pygmy hippopotamuses, and then distinguishes between the two. Each page or double-page spread includes a factoid or two describing weight, habitat, favorite foods, and behaviors. Digitally colored pen-and-ink cartoons show talking animals as well as a young white human observer. Speech bubbles and occasional text boxes add humor and further interesting information. Readers and listeners may be particularly amused by hippo bathroom habits: flicking their tails, they splatter their poop, perhaps “to mark trails or show dominance.” But there is solid, serious information here as well. “Hippos have big teeth, but that doesn’t keep them completely safe.” The author gently mentions threats to hippos, such as hunting and habitat destruction, and encourages his audience to “help by learning more about hippos and then teaching others.” In a nice touch, the concluding spread includes a review of hippo facts from the text and suggestions for further research, including lists of books for younger and older readers.

A promising first entry in a new series of picture books introducing iconic mammals to young readers with a sense of humor. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-667-3

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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