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

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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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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.

WOLF PUPS JOIN THE PACK

From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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