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The art is something to see, but the perfunctory text reads like an afterthought.

Twenty wild creatures strut distinctive horns, tongues, feet, scales, and other prominent features.

From the hummingbird hawk-moth to the blue-footed booby, the aptly named blobfish to the narwhal and the babirusa, land and sea creatures from various parts of the world pose with strong, boldly textured presence in natural settings in Garland’s digitally colored woodcuts—mostly as single subjects, many chasing or chowing down on favored prey, and two (a male frigatebird and the aforementioned booby) posturing before prospective mates. But if the pictures reward attention, the accompanying commentary generally just singles out one physical feature for each and offers, at best, sketchy explanations of its function. “My large nose keeps out dust and helps me breathe,” says the saiga antelope. (Don’t most noses do that?) “I have large tusks, but I don’t use them for fighting,” says a babirusa, leaving readers in the dark about what they are used for. Similarly unenlightening are opaque follow-up notes, which mention that the Sunda flying lemur “is a cobego and not a lemur” and that jellyfish “are not fish; they are Scyphozoa,” plus a mistaken implication that only male narwhals have tusks. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The art is something to see, but the perfunctory text reads like an afterthought. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-8234-5102-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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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

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