Children—and more than a few adults—will find this educational you-are-there journey to the rain forest fascinating.

NO MONKEYS, NO CHOCOLATE

This clever circular tale with a curious title opens with a common scene: a party including chocolaty treats. The authors explain, “[Y]ou can’t make chocolate without… / …cocoa beans.” With the turn of the page, readers find themselves in the rain forest microhabitat of the cocoa tree.

In each spread, the authors take children backward through the life cycle of the tree: pods, flowers, leaves, stems, roots and back to beans. The interdependence of plants and animals is introduced in the process: Midges carry pollen from one flower to another; aphids destroying tender stems are kept in check by an anole. Graceful ink-and-watercolor illustrations range from an expansive view of the rain forest to a close-up of aphids. Explanations are delivered in a simple manner that avoids terms such as pollination or germination. “Bookworm” commentators in the corner of each spread either reinforce the concept—“No lizards, no chocolate”—or echo youngsters’ impatience: “I thought this book was supposed to be about monkeys.” Indeed, the book closes with a monkey sitting in a branch with an open pod, eating the pulp and spitting out the beans, which fall to the ground and take root: no monkeys, no chocolate. Backmatter helps young naturalists understand why conservation and careful stewardship is important.

Children—and more than a few adults—will find this educational you-are-there journey to the rain forest fascinating. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58089-287-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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This effort gives partial information where children could have handled the full picture. Look to Julie Hannah and Joan...

IT'S RAINING!

Though Gibbons includes lots of facts about rain in her latest, some flaws limit its usefulness.

The explanation of the water cycle, though basic, is solid and accessible for children: “As the water vapor moves higher into the sky, the air becomes cooler and cooler. Water vapor soon turns into millions of water droplets. This is called condensation.” Gibbons then goes on to describe the types of rain clouds. Unfortunately, her trademark watercolor-illustration style does not differentiate these enough, nor does the text, to make this knowledge applicable. She next tackles the different ways rain falls: drizzle, shower, rain, rainstorm, thunderstorm, flash flood. While the bit about thunder and lightning may soothe nerves about this typical childhood fear, introducing the threat of broken windows and falling tree limbs from other storms may offset this. The final few pages address storm cleanup, acid rain, cleaner energy sources and the possibility of a rainbow. How this latter forms is left to the backmatter, whose many facts should have been supplied in the text itself, including tips on staying dry and safe and a list of supplies to have on hand in case of a storm. As in her other titles, text within the illustrations gives further information and/or defines vocabulary words.

This effort gives partial information where children could have handled the full picture. Look to Julie Hannah and Joan Holub’s The Man Who Named the Clouds, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (2006), instead. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2924-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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