Though some of the individual animals might be found in other titles, bringing them all together as gliders here makes the...

CATCHING AIR

TAKING THE LEAP WITH GLIDING ANIMALS

From the How Nature Works series

Southeast Asian Draco lizards, North American flying squirrels, and Australian sugar gliders: what do they have in common?

They all glide—not fly—with the help of special flaps called patagia. With the help of many stock photos (of varying quality and focus) and some drawings and engravings, the mechanics of the gliding process are explained. The text is clear and speaks of the history of gliding animals from the 125 million–year-old fossils of “the earliest known mammalian glider, Volaticotherium antiquis” to “some astonishing new gliding animals… / …PEOPLE!” The author includes information about professionally created hang gliders and wingsuits and warns his young readers not to attempt to build their own. Leonardo da Vinci’s sepia-toned design for an ornithopter, a gliding machine, illustrates this spread opposite an exciting photo of a person in a red, white, and blue wingsuit. With the round series logo (How Nature Works) used as a design element alongside photos of different sizes and focus inserted in each double-page spread, the layout is sometimes too busy, but some photos are striking. The full-page photo of the Asian Wallace’s frog is a wonderful animal portrait, as is the Malaysian Draco lizard. Backmatter includes websites and a bibliography of adult books as well as a glossary.

Though some of the individual animals might be found in other titles, bringing them all together as gliders here makes the book worth a look. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88448-496-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Outstanding suspense.

WILDFIRE

WHEN TREES EXPLODE

A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Sam and Delphy are staying at separate summer camps on the same lake when the threat of a wildfire forces evacuation—but both are inadvertently left behind. Using the survival skills he learned from his deceased father, Sam hikes cross-country until he finds a remote cabin and the old Jeep that will prove to be his salvation. Only later, barreling along a narrow logging road, does he encounter Delphy. With shades of My Side of the Mountain for a modern audience, 2010 Newbery Honoree Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg) provides the pair of young adolescents, both white, with just enough modern technology to keep the tale credible. It will take all of their courage and wits to survive being lost in the wilderness, even as they are constantly threatened both by the erratic fire and the danger posed by two out-of-control arsonists. Sam’s pithy first-person voice is self-deprecating enough to be fully believable and plays nicely against Delphy’s sometimes less confident but heroically determined character. Short chapters, outstanding cover art, and a breathless pace make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. Interesting backmatter regarding wildfires and survival tips rounds out a thrilling tale.

Outstanding suspense. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26690-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride.

WILD RIVER

Disaster overtakes a group of sixth graders on a leadership-building white-water rafting trip.

Deep in the Montana wilderness, a dam breaks, and the resultant rush sweeps away both counselors, the rafts, and nearly all the supplies, leaving five disparate preteens stranded in the wilderness far from where they were expected to be. Narrator Daniel is a mild White kid who’s resourceful and good at keeping the peace but given to worrying over his mentally ill father. Deke, also White, is a determined bully, unwilling to work with and relentlessly taunting the others, especially Mia, a Latina, who is a natural leader with a plan. Tony, another White boy, is something of a friendly follower and, unfortunately, attaches himself to Deke while Imani, a reserved African American girl, initially keeps her distance. After the disaster, Deke steals the backpack with the remaining food and runs off with Tony, and the other three resolve to do whatever it takes to get it back, eventually having to confront the dangerous bully. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds but are fairly broadly drawn; still, their breathlessly perilous situation keeps the tale moving briskly forward, with one threatening situation after another believably confronting them. As he did with Wildfire (2019), Newbery Honoree Philbrick has crafted another action tale for young readers that’s impossible to put down.

Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64727-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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