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The talented photo-illustrator (Digging for Bird Dinosaurs, 2000, etc.) examines 125 backyard creatures, mostly insects, photographed life-sized and described in a detailed text. Creatures are presented in seven double-page layouts, each a composite of over 60 separate photographs. Following each habitat page are two pages of information and identification. He provides both the specific (how ladybugs take off for flight) and the more global (how critters fit together in the habitat and he invites the reader to become a backyard detective with hints and projects for exploration). Many creatures will be familiar to both urban and suburban dwellers; a photo index aids in identifying them. According to an endnote, the photographer used a computer and “cut-and-paste” technique to edit the photos of individual creatures and place them in the habitat collages in naturalistic poses. For example, a backyard meadow shows dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs, bees, spittlebugs, caterpillars, and more crawling, climbing, and flying in and around milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, dandelions, and clover. Occasionally a magnifying glass is used to enlarge a part of the collage. Another composite shows flying insects as a backyard viewer would see them looking up—insects from the bottom look very different. With four kinds of spiders, five kinds of ants, and seven different butterflies, there is plenty here to keep young and adult viewers engaged and challenged. (Nonfiction. 5-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-17478-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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