Nate and the Horseshoe Crabs

Several bird friends overcome their reluctance to help unfamiliar animals in a colorful but lightly plotted picture book by debut author/illustrator Newton.
Nate, a blue bird with a short, round beak, and his friends Tern Tern, PJ (a pelican) and Gully (who doesn’t appear to be a sea gull) decide to go fishing. But when they arrive at the beach, they discover that their usual place is covered with horseshoe crabs. Nate offers some interesting facts about horseshoe crabs: “April through June, around the full moon, the Horseshoe crabs come out to play.” But when Nate encourages his friends to help the crabs get back to the ocean, the friends reject the idea: The crabs are too creepy looking, they protest. What if they sting? Once again, Nate offers some facts about the crabs: They don’t sting, they’ve been around since the dinosaurs, and they’re useful to humans, who don’t otherwise appear in the book. Still not convinced, the friends won’t help until Nate encourages them to imagine themselves stranded on an island somewhere. The plot ends up with no real conflict or character development, since Nate never has to take a stand against his friends’ prejudice and is able to convince them without much trouble, but the story does offer a lesson in empathy, imagining what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. Young readers may also pick up enough interesting tidbits about horseshoe crabs to want to investigate the fascinating creatures on their own. With character designs a bit reminiscent of Mo Willems’ Pigeon and Duckling, Newton’s charming, simplistic illustrations might encourage children to attempt their own drawn versions of the bird friends or the rocklike horseshoe crabs. Some of the words are printed in a different color for no apparent reason, and the backgrounds and word balloons are a bit amateurish. Still, young readers will flock toward the bird friends and may not mind that the simple plot is easily resolved.

A facile, fairly conflict-free picture book with charming character design and enough science facts to inspire animal lovers to research further.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615820033

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Bookian

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2014

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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