Montgomery’s imagined story is informed by her extensive knowledge and rings true; sadly, the illustrations are less...

INKY'S AMAZING ESCAPE

HOW A VERY SMART OCTOPUS FOUND HIS WAY HOME

Inky the octopus escapes again.

The author of The Soul of an Octopus (2015, for adults) provides a picture-book example of octopus intelligence in this latest account of the escape of an octopus named Inky from the New Zealand National Aquarium. Her well-paced narrative begins with his hatching in the wild, from an egg “the size of a grain of rice.” The writer weaves in plenty of informational details about octopuses’ physical characteristics and habits while she spins the likely story of his injury (two tentacles partially bitten off by a moray eel), accidental capture, and subsequent life in a public aquarium. The smooth prose invites children’s appreciation for this remarkable species, which even enjoy playing with familiar toys. A reassuring endnote explains that the octopus was “probably very happy in his tank at the aquarium.” But, like readers and listeners, he was curious, “eager to discover what else is out there.” Colorful, digitally finished illustrations created using various paints, oil pastel, and collage give a reasonable impression of the octopus’s world, but Inky’s popping eyes lack the characteristic, usually rectangular slit, and he’s shown as female. A New Zealand street scene has cars driving on the wrong side of the road.

Montgomery’s imagined story is informed by her extensive knowledge and rings true; sadly, the illustrations are less convincing. Still, this is the most plausible of many recent iterations of this great escape. (endnote, fun facts, further resources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0191-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.

OUR PLANET! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE EARTH

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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