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Beautifully illustrated and well meaning, if a bit heavy-handed.

A journey around the globe highlights ecological dangers the world over.

At midnight, two brown-skinned children living in London, in the borough of Greenwich, where time zones begin, take an instantaneous trip around the world to drop in on other regions (and time zones) “and see what’s happening on Planet Earth in just one moment.” The children observe a humpback whale in Maui (where it’s 2 p.m.), owl monkeys waking in Ecuador (7 p.m.), albatrosses nesting on Bird Island, South Georgia (10 p.m.), and more. The voyage is meant to evoke not only wonder at the natural beauty of the world, but also concern. Davies peppers the narrative with examples of how changing climates have made life more challenging for these animals, and as the youngsters return home, they travel “over ocean, where plastic clogs the waves; back over land…where fires burn and, everywhere, signs show the world is getting warmer.” The lesson on time zones and how the world’s animals spend their time becomes an ode to Earth Day, complete with protest signs, which muddies the book’s sense of exploration. It’s hard to argue with the message, but the wondrous sights, depicted in Desmond’s enchanting mixed-media illustrations with colors that pop, seem dulled by the environmental pitch. Wordy backmatter—including notes from the author and artist and information on climate change—tells rather than shows. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Beautifully illustrated and well meaning, if a bit heavy-handed. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2613-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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