ANIMALS YOU NEVER EVEN HEARD OF

Curtis (Aquatic Animals in the Wild and in Captivity, 1992) briefly describes the characteristics and plight of a dozen unusual endangered species of wildlife in habitats that range from the foothills of the Andes to the rain forests of Vietnam and Laos. Full-color, close-up photographs shot in wildlife reserves show such animals as the pudu (the world's smallest deer), golden lion tamarin (a monkey with a mane), a pygmy loris (a lemur-like primate), as well as the axolotl (a salamander), babirusa (a peculiar pig with tusks), and a red uakari (a red-faced monkey). The most familiar creature may be the Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard. Each animal is labeled with its status—rare, threatened, or endangered—depending on the severity of its decline. Curtis covers in summary the habits and habitats of the animals, and also discloses the nature of the threat to each one's survival or environment, e.g., acid rain, deforestation, poaching, overpopulation, pollution, etc. Unfortunately, no maps are included. Still, both children and adults will marvel at these eccentricities of the natural world and will quickly become concerned for them. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-87156-594-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

BAD KITTY GOES ON VACATION

From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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