Beautiful but flawed.

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EXTRAORDINARY ENDANGERED ANIMALS

This oversized album describes 34 unusual and appealing animals from six world regions and explains why many are endangered.

An introduction emphasizes the importance of maintaining balance in nature and introduces the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of endangered species. Each species is presented in a pair of double-page spreads that includes two large photographs, watercolor art, relatively extensive text describing the animal and the threats it faces, a small, general map and a notebook entry describing human connections. Although this purports to be about endangered species, the first animal described, the Atlantic puffin, is of “least concern” according to the most recent IUCN list. The next, the Southwestern water vole, is “vulnerable” in its European habitat and the third, the Western spadefoot toad, is closer to endangered status as “near-threatened.” There are also mistakes of fact—Valentine's Day is not “the beginning of the mating season for amphibians.” Throughout, the authors use the word “skate” when they mean stingray. No translator is listed for the text, first published in France in 2010 as Les Animaux d'exception: Racontés aux enfants. There are no credits for the photographs except for those repeated on the jacket, and no sources given for the information. Finally, the index has errors.

Beautiful but flawed. (glossary, "How you can help") (Reference. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0034-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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It’s broader that it is deep, but it offers both a global view and art to pore over.

OCEAN

SECRETS OF THE DEEP

A dive into the ocean’s wonders, from edge to abyss.

De Amicis’ painted illustrations give this wide-angled survey a strong visual draw, as sea life floats on every page in grand displays of exotic shapes, gracefully angled fins and spikes, tendrils and tentacles, intricate patterns of dots and stripes. We really have just one ocean on this planet, Weiss points out, and we know less about it than we know about the moon or Mars—so she begins by pairing mermaids with manatees, the legendary kraken with the real giant squid, before going on to profile characteristic residents of each oceanic zone from sunlit surface to the dark and eerie world at the bottom of the deepest trenches. She then surveys local habitats from polar seas to salt marshes, glides past diverse topics from symbiosis and other relationships to sea creatures that change sexes, and, after glances at climate change, “plastic soup,” and other threats, closes with a set of basic principles of environmental care. Each marine creature on view is identified and accurately depicted, with occasional small silhouettes of humans or other animals to provide a sense of relative scale.

It’s broader that it is deep, but it offers both a global view and art to pore over. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9999680-7-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Excellent information presented in a frustrating and distracting jumble.

TOP DOGS

TRUE STORIES OF CANINES THAT MADE HISTORY

Dogs have played a role in human history for eons.

MacLeod provides coverage on eight doggy themes arranged chronologically: Seaman, the Newfoundland that accompanied Lewis and Clark; Pekinese dogs’ connection with Chinese royalty; dogs that served in World War I; Togo and Balto and their lifesaving trek across the Alaskan tundra with diphtheria antitoxin; the first American guide dog, Buddy; dogs that served in World War II; bomb-sniffing dogs, including Brandy, who found explosives on a jet in 1972; and search-and-rescue dogs, especially those that served on 9/11. A plethora of excellent photographs accompanies the engaging text. Unfortunately, a profusion of text boxes, sidebars, and other interruptions breaks up the stories. Page-sized featurettes on a yellow background headed “Dog Data” primarily focus on the history of dogs and their natural characteristics. Small pullouts entitled “Woof!” contain brief, miscellaneous tidbits that usually, but not always, relate to the topic at hand. The chapter on World War II dogs also includes: a section on modern war dogs; a Woof! on a border collie that scares birds away from a Michigan airport; boxes on both mythological Cerberus and a dog that defended a Persian city in 456 B.C.E.; and a World War I photo.

Excellent information presented in a frustrating and distracting jumble. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-907-1

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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