Entertaining and informative.

Why do humans make blood, if not for thirsty vampires?

McAnulty teams up with illustrator Tenney to follow up her Brains! Not Just a Zombie Snack (2021) with a closer look at blood—specifically, human blood. Two movie-style vampires (pointy ears, widow’s peaks, and prominent canine teeth) engage in a funny yet edifying discussion about this essential liquid. The taller, older, purplish vampire, amusingly dressed in a pinstripe suit, really just wants to drink someone’s blood. They’ve walked from their spooky hilltop castle and bellied up to the bar at the “I Don’t Vant To Suck Your Blood Smoothie Shop,” having misread what’s on offer. To the older vampire’s dismay, the younger, shorter, rounder, blue-skinned one states that blood is more important to humans and belongs “in the cardiovascular systems” rather than in smoothie blenders. The little vampire clearly describes why blood is essential for human bodies; how it moves around the body via arteries, arterioles, and capillaries; what’s in it (white and red blood cells, plasma, and platelets); and what these components do (white blood cells fight disease). The tall vampire’s increasing disappointment is hilarious, but by the time the lively explanation is complete, they seem fairly sanguine about choosing a delicious, nonblood, chocolate milkshake. An author’s note emphasizes the importance of donating blood, and backmatter offers several intriguing facts about blood. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Entertaining and informative. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-30405-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022


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


Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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