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An intriguing and effective look at an unfamiliar world, well suited for reading aloud.

The carcass of a whale is a gift to the sea.

When a whale dies, its body sinks to the ocean floor, but that’s not the end of its useful life. For the next 50 years, it will continue to provide nourishment to a series of deep-sea creatures. Stewart takes her readers 5,000 feet down into the East Pacific Ocean to watch the procession of scavengers who will feast on the remains of a 70,000-pound gray whale—and sometimes each other. First come the hagfish and the sleeper sharks. Later there will be zombie worms and the squat lobsters who eat them. Some microbes “form thick, colorful mats that spread across the bones,” while other microbes live inside the mussels and tubeworms that are also attracted to the carcass. It’s a thriving new sea floor ecosystem. The exemplary backmatter tells us that scientists have identified over 500 species that are in some way connected to a whale fall. The author has chosen examples with names—“snubnose eelpouts,” “sea pigs,” “blob sculpin”—that delight. The smoothly written text is set directly on evocative blue-toned underwater scenes that make good use of light and texture. The backmatter’s added facts about the 22 animals featured will inform science-inclined older readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An intriguing and effective look at an unfamiliar world, well suited for reading aloud. (more information on whale falls, selected sources, resources for further exploration) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-38060-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude.

A deceptively simple, visually appealing, comprehensive explanation of volcanoes.

Gibbons packs an impressive number of facts into this browsable nonfiction picture book. The text begins with the awe of a volcanic eruption: “The ground begins to rumble…ash, hot lava and rock, and gases shoot up into the air.” Diagrams of the Earth’s structural layers—inner and outer core, mantle, and crust—undergird a discussion about why volcanoes occur. Simple maps of the Earth’s seven major tectonic plates show where volcanoes are likeliest to develop. Other spreads with bright, clearly labeled illustrations cover intriguing subtopics: four types of volcanoes and how they erupt; underwater volcanoes; well-known volcanoes and historic volcanic eruptions around the world; how to be safe in the vicinity of a volcano; and the work of scientists studying volcanoes and helping to predict eruptions. A page of eight facts about volcanoes wraps things up. The straightforward, concise prose will be easy for young readers to follow. As always, Gibbons manages to present a great deal of information in a compact form.

Erupt into applause for this picture book of the first magma-tude. (Nonfiction picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4569-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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From the Find Momo series , Vol. 7

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute.

Readers bid farewell to a beloved canine character.

Momo is—or was—an adorable and very photogenic border collie owned by author Knapp. The many readers who loved him in the previous half-dozen books are in for a shock with this one. “Momo had died” is the stark reality—and there are no photographs of him here. Instead, Momo has been replaced by a flat cartoonish pastiche with strange, staring round white eyes, inserted into some of Knapp’s photography (which remains appealing, insofar as it can be discerned under the mixed media). Previous books contained few or no words. Unfortunately, virtuosity behind a lens does not guarantee mastery of verse. The art here is accompanied by words that sometimes rhyme but never find a workable or predictable rhythm (“We’d fetch and we’d catch, / we’d run and we’d jump. Every day we found new / games to play”). It’s a pity, because the subject—a pet’s death—is an important one to address with children. Of course, Momo isn’t gone; he can still be found “everywhere” in memories. But alas, he can be found here only in the crude depictions of the darling dog so well known from the earlier books.

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781683693864

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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