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A lighthearted approach to a sobering truth.

Ubiquitous use of plastics has produced oceans of plastic soup left for a new generation to clean up.

Rhyming couplets use an extended cooking metaphor to introduce the problem of plastic pollution before calling on “new chefs” to follow the recipe for solving it. The playful tone of the text and illustrations belie the sad facts they convey. Pincus points out that close examination of ocean water reveals “a confetti-like brew” of tiny plastic specks. Plastic trash ends up in the ocean and is “puréed” by ocean currents, ending up concentrated in gyres. Her soup metaphor works well. This unhealthy brew is then eaten by sea creatures, large and small. Humans who eat fish are also eating plastic bits. She suggests readers call on plastics producers to stop and that they change their personal habits, as well. Semple’s animation-style illustrations feature a diverse group of children throughout. Cartoon seascapes show plastic at every depth as well as creatures who eat it. A world map with continents and oceans shows the locations of major gyres. A final spread of backmatter offers more detailed information at a higher reading level than the primary text. Altogether, this is an engaging, informative package aimed at an audience who will, alas, probably be familiar with the problem of ocean degradation but not powerful enough to do much about it. Fortunately, the writer’s suggestions are doable.

A lighthearted approach to a sobering truth. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1118-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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From the Over and Under series

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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