Growing up beautiful and carnivorous.

NIC BISHOP BIG CATS

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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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