A fascinating and inspiring STEAM-driven tale.

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WINGED WONDERS

SOLVING THE MONARCH MIGRATION MYSTERY

So, who solved the mystery of the monarch butterfly migration?

Was it White Canadian scientist Fred, or was it the Indigenous people of the Sierra Madre mountains in central Mexico who had known for centuries about the monarchs’ “secret” winter roosting place? This lively account relates the 30-year efforts of thousands of volunteers of all ages to piece together clues. From tagging the fragile wings of the intrepid butterflies to physically tracking their flight, people across the North American countries of Canada, the United States, and Mexico joined together to decipher the puzzle of “one of the longest known insect migrations on Earth.” The chained answers to Pincus’ question “Where do they go?” guide readers along the riveting path of scientific discovery that finally culminated in 1976 in the oyamel fir groves of Mexico. Imamura’s colorful illustrations successfully capture the multiracial and multinational throng that was instrumental in unraveling the mystery of the monarchs’ epic journey. The butterflies flutter gracefully over almost every page, sometimes singly and sometimes in joyous festoons. The backmatter gives a more detailed history and suggested projects to help sustain the majestic monarchs. Although the then-billions of monarchs have now dwindled to millions since 1976 because of insecticides and habitat destruction, Pincus ends the book on an optimistic note, encouraging the participation of us all in helping these “winged wonders” to not only survive, but thrive.

A fascinating and inspiring STEAM-driven tale. (Informational picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-53411-040-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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 good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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