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HOOT AND HOWL ACROSS THE DESERT

LIFE IN THE WORLD'S DRIEST DESERTS

A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity.

Creatively stylized images of flora and fauna native to some 15 deserts around the world.

Interspersing her examination with closer looks at camels and at sand dunes, the bird communities associated with acacia trees, and like intriguing sidelights, Tzomaka poses groups of select residents from all three types of desert (hot, cold, and coastal) against sere backdrops, with pithily informative comments on characteristic behaviors and survival strategies. But significant bits of her presentation are only semilegible, with black type placed on deep blue or purple backgrounds. And rarely (if ever) have desert animals looked so…floral. Along with opting for a palette of bright pinks, greens, and purples rather than natural hues for her flat, screen-print–style figures, Tzomaka decorates them with contrasting whirls of petals and twining flourishes, stars, scallops, pinwheels, and geometric lines or tessellations. Striking though these fancies are, artistic license has led her into some serious overgeneralizations, as she claims to be drawing on regional folk motifs for inspiration—justifying the ornate ruffs and borders on creatures of the Kalahari with a vague note that “African tribes make accessories and jewelry…decorated with repeated lines, circles and dots,” for instance, and identifying a Northwest Coastal pattern on an arctic fox as “Inuit.” Readers may find less shifty footing in more conventional outings like Jim Arnosky’s Watching Desert Wildlife (1998).

A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity. (map, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65198-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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THE MONKEY AND THE DOVE AND FOUR OTHER TRUE STORIES OF ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS

From the Unlikely Friendships for Kids series

The sense of wonder that infuses each simply worded chapter is contagious, and some of the photos are soooo cuuuuute.

The author of an adult book about uncommon animal attachments invites emergent readers to share the warm (Unlikely Friendships, 2011).

This is the first of four spinoffs, all rewritten and enhanced with fetching color photographs of the subject. It pairs a very young rhesus monkey with a dove, one cat with a zoo bear and another that became a “seeing-eye cat” for a blind dog (!), an old performing elephant with a stray dog and a lion in the Kenyan wild with a baby oryx. Refreshingly, the author, a science writer, refrains from offering facile analyses of the relationships’ causes or homiletic commentary. Instead, she explains how each companionship began, what is surprising about it and also how some ended, from natural causes or otherwise. There is a regrettable number of exclamation points, but they are in keeping with the overall enthusiastic tone.

The sense of wonder that infuses each simply worded chapter is contagious, and some of the photos are soooo cuuuuute. (animal and word lists) (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-7011-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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OUR HOUSE IS ROUND

A KID'S BOOK ABOUT WHY PROTECTING OUR EARTH MATTERS

The result of this Grammy-nominated harpist’s effort to simplify a complex scientific subject is a medley of environmental...

Pollution, energy use, and simply throwing things away have created a worldwide mess that kids can help clean up with an eight-step action plan.

This well-meant offering introduces the idea of the interconnectedness of human activities and the state of our world. We’re all affected by pollution. Our need for energy results in a variety of current problems: unclean air, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. We should use less. Trash doesn’t vanish; it must be burned or dumped. We should also recycle. This helps save trees, which “eat up pollution.” Colorful, unsophisticated cartoons show a bunny magician who cannot make trash disappear and a diverse array of young people who can. The author’s strong message is undercut by end matter that twice states that “many scientists” consider climate change to be caused by global warming. A National Academy of Sciences survey in 2010 showed an overwhelming consensus: 97 percent. Inspired by her concern for the environment, Kondonassis wrote this when she was unable to find an appropriate  book that would explain to her young daughter why she should care. Too bad she missed Kim Michelle Toft’s The World That We Want (2005) or Todd Parr’s The Earth Book (2010).

The result of this Grammy-nominated harpist’s effort to simplify a complex scientific subject is a medley of environmental tweets. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61608-588-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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