A pretty, introductory survey.

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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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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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