An engagingly illustrated work that brings a compelling concept to life.

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Urban environmentalist and educator Sando makes green architecture accessible to an elementary school audience in this picture-book debut.

The rooftops of New York City come in several colors: blue, black, silver, stone, and green. Sando briefly describes the reasons behind the other structures’ hues before delving into the subject of green roofs and how planting atop buildings can have a tremendous environmental and emotional impact. In well-labeled diagrams and instructional illustrations, the author, along with illustrator Lehar, reveals the layered structure that makes planting atop a roof naturally beneficial. Sando also makes sure to mention the positive impact it can have on people, who “work and feel better when they look at nature.” Sando seamlessly introduces scientific terms (such as compression, tension, habitat), providing definitions inline or in a callout where necessary as well as in a glossary. Lehar’s bright cartoon illustrations depict real New York landmarks with green roofs to show the variety of appearances they can have as well as a variety of New Yorkers. The text’s complexity is best suited for independent readers at the second- or third-grade level, but teachers will also find plenty of plain-language classroom material here.

An engagingly illustrated work that brings a compelling concept to life.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73416-720-7

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Nausicaa Valley Press

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A fresh, factual blast with hints of drollery.



A survey of the many ways we and other animals use and detect odors.

In this large-format French import, lightweight flaps hide inside views, diagrams, and close-ups added to De Gastold’s whimsical scenes of expressively posed animals and (racially diverse) people sniffing air or water to track down prey or other food, identify mates or offspring, detect danger, and offer clues to migratory routes. The flap on which two seals swim beneath a thick layer of sea ice that separates them from a sniffing polar bear lifts to reveal a seal coming up for breath—right into the jaws of the bear; a pigeon-shaped flap lifts to reveal an aerial view of that pigeon sniffing its way home. Figueras explains in simple but specific language how the “high tech instruments” of creatures including dogs, sharks, elephants (“superheroes of smell”), and ants process pheromones and other odorant molecules. Readers also learn, memorably, how male giraffes smell and taste the urine of females to check out their hormone levels and male ring-tailed lemurs produce a “stomach-churning perfume” to engage in “smell battles” with rivals. These whiffs of humor lighten the informational load…though serious-minded young biologists will still prefer Mary Holland’s Animal Noses (2019), with its more naturalistic photographs. Suggested titles for further reading are limited to three British books and two in French.

A fresh, factual blast with hints of drollery. (index) (Informational novelty. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-07-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Occasionally loses focus but rich in eye-opening facts and eye-candy art.


From the Jerry Pallotta's Alphabet Books series

The eyes have it in Pallotta’s latest playful and informative ABC.

Bersani follows up the spectacular illustrations in Not a Butterfly Alphabet Book (2019) with another set of equally bright, bold, and this time literally eye-catching close-ups to go with Pallotta’s alphabetical assortment of ocular animal facts. Pallotta offers specific observations on the eyesight of creatures from giant squid to spider while also contrasting the general benefits of monocular and binocular vision, describing three types of tears, and casting glances at other vision-related facts, such as a fly’s compound eyes and a python’s thermal sensors. Both author and illustrator tuck in extras, including, for each letter, a thematically related figure of speech like “get some shut-eye” and “to see eye to eye” and a gallery of goofy eyeglasses, and they occasionally dart off topic (“N” is represented by “Night Crawler,” for instance: “They never need to visit an eye doctor!”). The statement that “having no eyesight is called blindness” may be glaringly simplistic, but that’s an isolated blink in a generally illuminating overview. A bulleted list of savvy advice for proper peeper care at the close is worth taking a gander at.

Occasionally loses focus but rich in eye-opening facts and eye-candy art. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57091-710-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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