A pretty, introductory survey.

A HOUSE IN THE SKY

Twenty animals and their sometimes-unusual ways of sheltering themselves are presented in full-color watercolor illustrations.

Though only one creature, the common swift, really makes a home in the sky (and “eats, drinks, and sleeps on the wing”), the animal homes in this collection are varied and occasionally surprising. Jenkins’ brief text describes the houses and shelters of mammals (tree kangaroo, badger, beaver, house mouse, and raccoon), birds (reed warbler, red ovenbird, burrowing owl, common swift, satin bowerbird), Siamese fighting fish, other water dwellers (rock-boring urchin, veined octopus, hermit crab, Venus comb, whale barnacle), insects (caddis fly, termite, Mexican book beetle), and a reptile (the box turtle). Animals that construct their own shelters are interspersed with animals that find shelters prefabricated for them—and of course the box turtle carries its shelter along with it. Gourley’s full-page illustrations convey the general look of each shelter, though the environments they’re found in aren’t always made clear. The Venus comb, for instance, looks fascinating, but is it underwater? Or not? In general, though, these simple introductions are fine beginnings and may lead curious readers to find out more. Alas, they won’t find a bibliography or source suggestions. The variety of animals is a definite plus, however. Separate brief paragraphs on each creature appear in the back pages, addressing general geographic location, animal size, and diet.

A pretty, introductory survey. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-780-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature.

OVER AND UNDER THE WAVES

From the Over and Under series

In a new entry in the Over and Under series, a paddleboarder glimpses humpback whales leaping, floats over a populous kelp forest, and explores life on a beach and in a tide pool.

In this tale inspired by Messner’s experiences in Monterey Bay in California, a young tan-skinned narrator, along with their light-skinned mom and tan-skinned dad, observes in quiet, lyrical language sights and sounds above and below the sea’s serene surface. Switching perspectives and angles of view and often leaving the family’s red paddleboards just tiny dots bobbing on distant swells, Neal’s broad seascapes depict in precise detail bat stars and anchovies, kelp bass, and sea otters going about their business amid rocky formations and the swaying fronds of kelp…and, further out, graceful moon jellies and—thrillingly—massive whales in open waters beneath gliding pelicans and other shorebirds. After returning to the beach at day’s end to search for shells and to spot anemones and decorator crabs, the child ends with nighttime dreams of stars in the sky meeting stars in the sea. Appended nature notes on kelp and 21 other types of sealife fill in details about patterns and relationships in this rich ecosystem. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

More thoughtful, sometimes exhilarating encounters with nature. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-347-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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