A magical story for budding scientists.

A Latine ocean enthusiast gets the surprise of a lifetime in this tale from Márquez, a Puerto Rican shark scientist committed to making STEM fields more inclusive.

As the sun sets on the beautiful Playita del Condado, Puerto Rico, Meli promises her mami that she’ll be ready to leave in just five minutes. She’s shocked when a hermit crab suddenly speaks to her. As Meli and her new friend, Jaiba, travel underwater and witness the effects of humans’ damaging impacts on the ecosystem, her interest in sharks and ocean conservation is amplified. Meli, who is brown-skinned with curly brown hair, has many questions, but when Jaiba suggests she become a scientist, she quietly muses that she hasn’t seen any who look like her. Then she and Jaiba find themselves in the audience of a lecture being delivered by a real-life scientist who resembles her. Meli observes the scientist, referred to as the Mother of Sharks, conducting research—and soon realizes that she and the scientist are one and the same. In a flash, she’s back on the beach and her five minutes are up, but her passion for science has been ignited. Readers will soak up the vividly illustrated underwater scenes alongside the important message to follow their passions; children from marginalized backgrounds will be especially heartened by Márquez’s encouraging tale. Meli and Jaiba speak English, though there’s some unitalicized Spanish throughout. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A magical story for budding scientists. (author’s note, glossary, resources, Spanish translations) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9780593523582

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


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


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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