A breezy, buoyant bucketful of atmospheric basics.


A cloud experiences the ups and downs of the water cycle.

In a minimalist narrative attached to bright, very simple cartoon scenes in which everything from our nearest star to the tiniest water droplets sports a smiley face, Hodgson personifies but otherwise accurately represents natural processes. Sun (“I’m hot stuff!”) warms a lake so that evaporated drops rise and gather into Cloud, which, driven by a friend named Wind that “loves to blow warm air to cold places,” passes over mountains and under airplanes. When droplets cool off enough, they link up into geometrical flakes (“This is snow much fun!”), pack in until they fall as raindrops, or rub together to build up an electrical charge: “BOOM.” Clouds can gather from all over, then split up again (“Adiós!” “Sayonara!” “Jal gayo!”) after a storm while Sun shows off “a neat trick”: “RAINBOW!” The fleecy, blue-eyed wanderer returns at last to the lake…just in time for a meet-cute with a newly formed, pink-eyed compatriot. “Hi! I’m Cloud. What’s your name?” Younger cloud watchers drawn by the artless tone and the (literally) vivacious illustrations, which resemble tissue-paper collage enhanced with occasional brushwork, will be well set up to dive into deeper treatments of the topic, such as Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer’s Water Wow! illustrated by Belle Wuthrich (2016). The small human figures visible in some scenes appear diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-14.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 90% of actual size.)

A breezy, buoyant bucketful of atmospheric basics. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22491-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.


Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.


Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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