Pretty pictures, but they are forcibly joined to a labored description of this fundamental eco-concept.

WHAT EATS THAT?

PREDATORS, PREY, AND THE FOOD CHAIN

An introduction to how a food chain works, from a flower’s nectar to a fish sandwich.

Using the titular question as a refrain, Jacobson kicks off with the simplistic claim that “food chains start with the sun” (not all of them do, however). He then goes on to construct a notably strained 10-link sequence of consumption in which dragonflies “sometimes” eat butterflies and wolves “sometimes” eat raccoons. Raccoons wouldn’t normally eat snakes but are shoehorned in because they will try “just about anything,” and mosquitoes “sip” wolf blood but “prefer nectar.” Links between the narrative and Tekiela’s wildlife photographs are pretty weak too, as except for the children (two white, two of color) chowing down at the beginning and end, none of the creatures on display are actually eating or even (except for the butterflies) shown with their supposed food source. Moreover, there is no mention of microbial members in the examined chain, and the trio of Argiope (garden) spiders depicted could as likely be prey for dragonflies as predators. Closing notes on alternative food-chain segments and other things the nine featured wild creatures eat don’t do much to help clarify the basic idea.

Pretty pictures, but they are forcibly joined to a labored description of this fundamental eco-concept. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59193-749-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Adventure Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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