A beautiful and informative title for a sense-of-wonder storytime.

WHEN THE SKY GLOWS

Around the world, natural events make the sky glow.

With a simple, repetitive verse and short explanatory descriptions, Beckerman presents occasions when the sky fills with light and color. The sun’s rising and setting, lightning storms, rainbows, solar eclipses, full moons, volcanic eruptions, mating fireflies, meteor showers, and auroras—all are opportunities to admire unusual displays in the natural world. Litchfield’s color-drenched illustrations glow as well. They show people appreciating nature in a variety of environments. This picture series begins and ends with a child in bed: a red-haired, light-skinned child rising with the sun in a rural setting; a dark-skinned boy waking in a city. Each topic is presented on a spread on which a few words on a block of color on the recto oppose a full-bleed image; this is followed by a luminous double-page scene illustrating the sky’s glow. An explanatory paragraph is relatively unobtrusive on the lower right—truly a two-level text. In one image, a brown-skinned photographer is almost hidden behind a camera; the page turn reveals that they are taking advantage of a golden sunset to photograph large African animals. On another spread, a light-skinned adult and child walk through a firefly-filled woods, and on another page, seated around a campfire, a tan-skinned family admires meteors showering from the sky (in unlikely numbers). The backmatter mentions light pollution and offers sources for further research. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautiful and informative title for a sense-of-wonder storytime. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5039-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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