Purposeful but effective in delivering an environmental message and encouraging action.

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BATS IN TROUBLE

Visiting her grandfather’s Alberta farm, Cricket and her best friend, Shilo, discover dead bats near wind turbines operated by the local utility, work out the problem, and find a way to help the bats migrate more safely.

This is a third episode in a Canadian series about animal-lover Cricket McKay, who previously saved ospreys and salamanders (Salamander Rescue, 2016, etc.). The 11 short chapters include grayscale illustrations (often occupying a full page) showing the white characters in action. Emerging readers in the primary grades will appreciate the simple, straightforward writing and larger-than-usual type but may be confused by the opening story fragment featuring a character who doesn’t figure in the actual story. That ghost story, told around a campfire, is a way of introducing Shilo’s fears about bats. Happily, as she learns what bats actually do and don’t do, these fears disappear. The two girls identify the dead bats—migrating hoary bats—encounter another local species while sheltering from a hail storm in Mr. McKay’s old hay shed, and make origami bats themselves. (A missed illustration opportunity shows several stages of their paper-folding but not the complete instructions.) Finally, they come up with a clever and successful way of sharing their concerns with townspeople and the electric company. An epilogue tells readers more about bats and about the scientific study on which the story is based.

Purposeful but effective in delivering an environmental message and encouraging action. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1403-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.

THE BIG BOOK OF BLOOMS

Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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