From the Life Cycles series

A great beginning look at the lifecycles of some fascinating animals and a solid tool for learning about food chains…just...

The fourth in the Life Cycles series (following River, Ocean and Forest), this focuses on 11 Arctic and Antarctic animals, exploring their life cycles and the ways in which they are interconnected by a food chain.

The first food chain Callery presents is hermit crab, Arctic tern, Arctic fox, polar bear. Each spread is devoted to a single animal. Readers’ eyes are led from left to right, reading a short paragraph about the animal, seeing its lifecycle in a four-part circular chart and reading a list of other fascinating facts. A final fact states the animal’s life expectancy and leads right into the next page, which features its predator. Beautiful close-up photographs show the animals in their natural habitats eating, playing and interacting with one another. Publishing concurrently is Grasslands, which explores three food chains in Africa and South and North America. Both texts begin with rudimentary and oversimplified introductions. Food chains start with producers that make their own food, then move on to primary and secondary consumers (“eats small, slow prey”). Finally, “At the top of a food chain is a top predator.” However, these generalizations do not hold true, even within the books—the Grasslands title has one food chain ending with a scavenger.

A great beginning look at the lifecycles of some fascinating animals and a solid tool for learning about food chains…just skip the introductions. (contents, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6691-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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