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Young readers will love Ninita and learn to care about saving her habitat.

Ninita may be a deaf pygmy marmoset, but she makes the most of life in her big world.

Ninita’s big world is not the Amazon rainforest, the native habitat of pygmy marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world, but the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee, Florida. Ninita was born deaf. She took in the sights and warmth of her habitat, but she could not “hear the hum of mosquitoes and dragonflies [or] her parents’ voices.” Her parents abandoned Ninita when she was just 3 weeks old. In Coleman’s illustrations Ninita is adorable, with sad or happy eyes and cheerful expressions of wonderment as she finds a world of cuddly toys, warm blankets, ropes to climb on, and yogurt, rice pudding, and “fluffy whipped cream” to eat—this last licked from the tip of an enormous human finger that effectively demonstrates scale. She especially loves being groomed with a toothbrush. As she grows, she explores tall grass and dark caves (depicted as the hair of a white human caregiver and partially opened book, respectively). These adventures are made better when she’s introduced into a new habitat and meets a new marmoset friend named Mr. Big to share them with. A lively if highly anthropomorphizing text and endearing digitally created illustrations combine to demonstrate how even the smallest creatures can “climb as high” and “jump just as fast” as their peers in a world that supports their efforts. The human hands shown could be white or brown.

Young readers will love Ninita and learn to care about saving her habitat. (author’s note, bibliography, fun facts) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-77001-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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