Richly illustrated and both poetically and informatively written.

WHO WILL IT BE?

HOW EVOLUTION CONNECTS US ALL

The mystery of evolution is presented in this Italian import.

Constructed essentially in two parts, this richly illustrated picture book begins with a spare, poetic portrayal of the development of a vertebrate embryo from conception to birth. The text gracefully and sure-handedly leads readers to the startling fact that developing vertebrate embryos, whether fish, toad, snake, duck, fox, or human, all look alike, and for a time, it is impossible to tell what—or who—the embryo will become. This fascinating fact, presented artistically and subtly in the first part of the book, raises a desire for more information—which is obligingly supplied by the second part of the story. Here, the text leaves behind spare poetry and turns to more fact-filled information. A key evolutionary theory of Darwin’s—that all vertebrates are descended from a single ancestor and have evolved to adapt to survive particular climates—is presented in an easily understandable way while also underscoring the fascinating conclusion that all creatures are connected through evolution: a satisfying circling back to the earlier part of the book. Bossù’s illustrations both soothe and stimulate with colorful, soft-edged circles and amorphous shapes on pure-white backgrounds, imbuing richness and anticipation to the theme of evolution.

Richly illustrated and both poetically and informatively written. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7331212-0-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Blue Dot Kids Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners.

THE MESS THAT WE MADE

The cadences of a familiar nursery rhyme introduce concerns about ocean garbage and what we, who made the mess, can do to help clean it up.

With the rhyme and meter of “The House That Jack Built,” Lord builds the problem of plastic waste in the oceans from the fish that must swim through it to a netted seal, a trapped turtle, and overflowing landfills before turning to remedies: cleaning beaches and bays, reducing waste, and protesting the use of fishing nets. Two pages of backmatter describe problems in more detail, while a third elaborates potential solutions; suggestions for individual action are provided as well. Blattman’s images begin with a racially diverse group of youngsters in a small boat in the center of a plastic trash gyre. The children, shown at different angles, bob spread by spread over trash-filled waters. To accompany the words, “Look at the mess that we made,” she adds a polluted city skyline and a container ship belching smoke to the scene. Finally, the dismayed young boaters reach a beach where a clean-up is in process. From their little skiff they help scoop up trash, rescue the turtle, and wave protest signs. The message is important, even vital in today’s world, but many caregivers and many environmentalists would eschew this doomful approach as a means of introducing environmental concerns to the early-elementary audience who might be drawn in by the nursery rhyme.

Well-intentioned but likely to overwhelm the intended readers and listeners. (map) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947277-14-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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