Unusually garish illustrations are the only mark of distinction here.

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DAY OF THE DINOSAURS

STEP INTO A SPECTACULAR PREHISTORIC WORLD

A broad gander at dinos and other toothy residents of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.

Chester opts for melodrama over any attempt at realism, floating on each spread a half-dozen or so prehistoric creatures posed in a limited range of side angles, rendered as flat figures in acidic, high-contrast hues and with mouths agape. Red is a particularly common color, as the violent rending of flesh begins on the title page. Even such herbivores as Triceratops or “gentle plant-eater” Nothronychus sport swathes of harsh vermilion on muzzles and backs. Brusatte, consultant on the miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs, likewise goes for the gusto: “What does Velociraptor do with this scary claw? It uses it first to hold down its victims, and then to slash open their guts.” Repeatedly warning young readers that any momentary distraction or laughing at “strange” features will result in being hunted down and eaten, the author delivers a standard assortment of likely facts and general speculations (without distinguishing between the two) on the habits and especially diets of extinct dinosaurs and reptiles, along with forced value judgements (“Deinocheirus is the weirdest dinosaur you’ve ever seen”), plus references to the supposed dispositions of various creatures and to front extremities as “hands” for an anthropomorphic overlay.

Unusually garish illustrations are the only mark of distinction here. (index, resource list) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-845-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff,...

MARY ANNING'S CURIOSITY

Carved out and buffed up from historical records, an imagined account of the great fossil hunter’s early life and groundbreaking career.

Following an account of the lightning strike that killed several adults but spared the 15-month-old Mary, Kulling skips ahead to record the child’s deep delight at getting a rock hammer for her eighth birthday. Between that and Anning’s laborious extraction of a great ichthyosaur skeleton at age 12, in 1811, the author chronicles her sometimes-hazardous search for fossil ammonites and other “curiosities” (as they were then called) to sell as the family livelihood—first with her father and then, after his disabling accident and early death, largely alone. Period details of everyday life in Lyme Regis, both in the narrative and in Castrillón’s delicate illustrations, and embroidered encounters with rival fossil hunters and collectors flesh out the story; notes at the end wire together explanations of what fossils are with descriptions of some of Anning’s other discoveries and their subsequent histories. Though here at least she seems almost relieved to quit school at the earliest opportunity to pursue her vocation, Mary presents an admirable role model for her lively mind, independent spirit, and a continuing sense of wonder that drives her to chip away at nature’s mysteries.

An alternative to the shelf full of picture-book biographies, for readers who may find Sheila Cole’s Dragon in the Cliff, illustrated by T.C. Farrow (1991) hard to read or get. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-898-3

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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