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Growing up beautiful and carnivorous.

As noted early on: “This book is about the largest and most powerful of all cats.”

These are, technically, big cats: tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards. Pumas and cheetahs have been included because, although they are more closely related to house cats, they are…big. Bishop is a wildlife photographer par excellence, filling every double-page spread with photographs—make that portraits—that arrest beholders. The layout is eye-catching, with generously leaded, large print, sometimes in colored ink, over photographic backgrounds or blocks of color; each page always includes one sentence in oversized type. The text is accessible, modulating between conversational and lyrical. Emphasis is placed on how big cats become skilled hunters, with details not for the faint of heart. Of a lion: “Saber-like canine teeth pierce and hold the struggling animal, giving it little chance of escape.” However, readers are spared any gore in the photographs, and the text is tactful about feline territorial disputes. Facts about specific big cats are used both to highlight differences and to demonstrate similarities across species. There’s vocabulary too, such as the word “coalition,” referring to a group of young, male cheetahs. Some readers may find that the use of “lioness” for female lions has a slightly anachronistic sound. The book ends with the recounting of some fascinating stories related to photographing cats in the wild, thoughtfully meting out compassion for both predators and prey.

Growing up beautiful and carnivorous. (index, glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-60577-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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