A winning mix of solid fact and undisguised fun.




From the What if You Had . . .? series

Wouldn’t you want stinging tentacles or superpowerful crab claws?

Markle and McWilliam continue their tour of the animal sphere begun with What If You Had Animal Teeth? (2013). Markle supplies scientific descriptions of nine marine creatures accompanied by photographic close-ups and realistic renderings, and McWilliam adds big, funny cartoon views of a thoroughly diverse cast of chimerically altered children sporting, essentially, superpowers. Who, after all, wouldn’t love to have the ability to squeeze through a chain-link fence like the giant Pacific octopus, slide over an icy sidewalk in the shell of a loggerhead sea turtle, or blow up like a starry pufferfish to float over a parade? Each animal is given two double-page spreads. On the first, a photograph appears on the verso, with a lively paragraph explaining the attribute explored, while McWilliam’s illustration on recto comically imagines a human child exploiting that attribute. The following double-page spread provides further information including size, life span, and diet along with information about juveniles of the species and another cartoon. Appealing equally to curiosity about the real world and to readers’ sense of play, this makes a natural companion for other eye-widening explorations of the deep like Corrine Demas and Artemis Roerig’s Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter?, illustrated by Ellen Shi (2020), and Brenda Z. Guiberson’s The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea, illustrated by Gennady Spirin (2015).

A winning mix of solid fact and undisguised fun. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35607-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An ill-conceived exercise in anthropomorphism.


Over 100 wild animals describe their jobs in human terms.

As a useful premise or even a viable conceit, this is an abject failure as nonfiction. Giving all 112 creatures introduced here different occupations, Hunt misleads with artificial cognates: the hyena tells readers: “I am a comedian”; the porcupine announces: “I am an acupuncturist.” One- or two-sentence explanatory notes often muddy the waters further: “I laugh hysterically to show how important I am in the group,” the hyena says. Moreover, an opening assertion that in nature animals help “their neighbors to have better lives,” coupled with a scarcity of specific references thereafter to predators and prey, is just disingenuous…as is a claim later on that indigenous species in the Hawaiian Islands and those that were introduced more recently, such as the Indian mongoose (shown here robbing a bird’s nest), “work side by side.” The collectively produced cartoon illustrations (“Muti” is a studio) feature both individual portraits and ensemble views of each animal, generally smiling, in one of 14 relatively specific habitats, from the “Kenyan savanna in Africa” to a Washington state backyard (where honeybees are inaccurately housed in a paper-wasps’ nest).

An ill-conceived exercise in anthropomorphism. (index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84780-972-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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“Humans are lucky to have rodents,” Munro argues…and makes her case with equal warmth to hearts and minds.


Twenty-one representatives of the largest mammalian order pose in this fetching portrait gallery.

Each one depicted, all or in part, at actual size, the rodentine array begins with a pocket-watch–size African pygmy jerboa and concludes with the largest member of the clan, the “sweet-looking capybara.” In between, specimens climb the scale past chipmunks and northern flying squirrels to a Norway rat, porcupine, and groundhog. Despite a few outliers such as the naked mole rat and a rather aggressive-looking beaver, Munro’s animals—particularly her impossibly cute guinea pig—strongly exude shaggy, button-eyed appeal. Her subjects may come across as eye candy, but they are drawn with naturalistic exactitude, and in her accompanying descriptive comments, she often relates certain visible features to distinctive habitats and behaviors. She also has a terrific feel for the memorable fact: naked mole rats run as quickly backward in their tunnels as forward; African giant pouched rats have been trained to sniff out mines; the house mouse “is a romantic. A male mouse will sing squeaky love songs to his girlfriend” (that are, fortunately or otherwise, too high for humans to hear). Closing summaries will serve budding naturalists in need of further specifics about sizes, diets, geographical ranges, and the like.

“Humans are lucky to have rodents,” Munro argues…and makes her case with equal warmth to hearts and minds. (websites, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3860-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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