Friendly and approachable, this compendium is sure to create some new favorites in the animal kingdom.

PIPSQUEAKS, SLOWPOKES, AND STINKERS

CELEBRATING ANIMAL UNDERDOGS

A tribute to underappreciated animals of all kinds.

Kids love pandas and elephants, big cats and great white sharks. But how many know about the naked mole rat or the western fence lizard? Dedicated to children experiencing bullying (“what others see as a weakness may actually be your strength”), Stewart’s latest focuses on some of nature’s most underrated creatures. One double-page spread highlights one or two animals that share a particular feature: size, smell, speed, appearance, energy level, etc. The following double-page spread gives an overview of the ways that trait helps them survive in the wild. The book covers animals both familiar, such as koalas and walruses, and more unusual, like hoatzins and the skunklike zorilla. Stewart’s narrative voice is casual and peppy: “Let’s start with this little critter—the Etruscan pygmy shrew. / It’s a real pipsqueak. Look, its name is longer than its body.” Laberis’ digitally rendered illustrations are warm and dynamic, simultaneously silly and realistic—a perfect match for the text and topic. Relatively minimal information about each animal is provided, but it’s enough to spark interest for further exploration. Backmatter includes “More About the Underdogs” and a list of selected sources.

Friendly and approachable, this compendium is sure to create some new favorites in the animal kingdom. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56145-936-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to.

HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER

Pearl and her robot, Pascal, take their coding skills for a spin at the amusement park in this Girls Who Code picture book, a follow-up to How To Code a Sandcastle (2018).

The park has many rides to choose from, and Pearl has 10 tokens to last her the day. But her favorite ride, the Python roller coaster, looks busy. Pearl decides to do something else fun, using code concepts such as variables to keep track of the length of the line and her remaining tokens and a conditional statement to decide when to return to the Python. Throughout, computer science terms are defined crisply in the text and vividly illustrated in the pictures, which use images such as popcorn bags for variables and the Ferris wheel for loops (keeping track of ice cream flavors seems somewhat contrived). The backmatter explains these ideas more fully. Pascal’s too-literal interpretations of Pearl’s statements make for several amusing moments along the way. When Pearl runs short of tokens (a missed opportunity to talk about checking for more than one condition?), she’s undaunted by the disaster, taking readers on a fun hunt for a secret hidden password, in a nod to the importance of proper sequencing. Pearl has brown skin and black curls; others at the park have a variety of skin tones.

Despite minor bumps, a ride that’s worth returning to. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29203-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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