Light in tone but not content, an imaginative way to map comings and goings in the natural world.

READ REVIEW

ANIMAZES

EXTRAORDINARY ANIMAL MIGRATIONS

For young naturalists, an invitation to guide 14 animals through migratory rounds.

Castrillón (The Balcony, 2019) casts each route as a wandering maze through uncrowded landscapes or waterways, with a red flag showing where to start, a checkered flag at the midway point, and explanatory notes and prompts placed throughout. The animals range from the far-traveling likes of humpback whales and Arctic terns to the red crabs of Christmas Island, which scuttle out of the rainforest to mate on the shore and “flick their eggs into the sea.” “Migration” is defined broadly enough to include the daily ups and downs (“diel vertical migration”) of Antarctic krill and loosely enough to include the peregrinations of polar bears along with annual journeys such as that of Zambia’s straw-colored fruit bats or the sockeye salmon’s once-in-a-lifetime odyssey. Obliquely acknowledging the often high attrition rates with occasional skulls or scatterings of bones, she recognizes the hazards migratory species face. Her animals are small cartoon figures that generally smile and often even cavort friskily about while both animal and human predators lurk on the sidelines watching. Piecemeal though it is, the narrative will leave younger readers with a basic grounding in the concept, and the mazes are simple enough that the visual key to their routes at the end may go unneeded.

Light in tone but not content, an imaginative way to map comings and goings in the natural world. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0853-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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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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