From the What if You Had . . .? series

A winning mix of solid fact and undisguised fun.

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. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020




An affectionate picture of bears and bear scientists, capped with a page of moon bear facts and an afterword.

Not one but three roly-poly moon bear cubs star in this true animal rescue tale.

Orphaned by poachers, Yasha, joined later by Shum and Shiksha, are nurtured by Pokrovskaya and another scientist for nearly two years on a game preserve until they were ready to be released into the Siberian wild. Taking a slightly anthropomorphized bear’s-eye point of view (“Yasha was happy with his new home”), Kvatum chronicles the cubs’ development as they learn to forage on their own while playing together and learning to climb trees. She also notes how important it is for human observers to remain aloof—minimizing physical contact and even wearing scent-concealing clothing—to prevent the animals from becoming dependent or domesticated. Looking positively fetching in the big, color photos, shaggy Yasha and his ursine cohorts grow visibly as they ramble through woodsy settings, splash in a river and survive an encounter with a prowling tiger before being deemed ready to live on their own.

An affectionate picture of bears and bear scientists, capped with a page of moon bear facts and an afterword. (map, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1051-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012



“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. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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