A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike.

BUTTERFLIES ARE PRETTY…GROSS!

From the Nature's Top Secrets series

A witty look at the less-beautiful characteristics of butterflies.

As this informational book opens, a big-eyed monarch-butterfly narrator flits and flutters with its beautiful friends. Then, in metafictive fashion, it warns readers that if they want to continue believing that pretty is the essence of butterflies, “DON’T TURN THE PAGE.” Of course, curious readers will keep going! The narrator reveals the truth: “Some butterflies are gross.” Readers peer through the narrator’s binoculars as it describes in pithy text such shocking sights as butterflies slurping up dead-animal juices and offers additional undesirable adjectives, like “drab” butterflies that resemble dull leaves, an adaptation that confuses hungry birds. Comical illustrations that feature patterns and earth tones highlight the humor. But wait, there’s more, as the narrator warns once again: “OK, prepare to get weirded out.” It starts up an old-fashioned movie projector, and as it uses such monstrous terms as shape-shifters and carnivorous, it explains and shows scenes of metamorphosis, caterpillars’ diets, and more. Finally, the narrator takes readers into a top-secret lab and reveals images of butterflies tasting with their feet, eating poop, and drinking tears—and some that “have butts that look like heads.” A concluding chart depicts thumbnails of featured butterflies, further related facts, and their geographic range. All in all, it’s a fun addition—or alternative—to traditional insect study. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A proboscis-in-cheek introduction to butterflies that will appeal to reluctant readers and bug enthusiasts alike. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6592-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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

HELLO AUTUMN!

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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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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