Attention-grabbing if not truly glowing.

ANIMALS AT NIGHT

A GLOW-IN-THE-DARK BOOK

All around the world, while humans sleep, there are animals active at night.

After an opening spread introducing the idea of nocturnal animals and a few of their adaptations, this unusual album offers a simulation of looking through a night-vision scope into different environments: woodland, country road, urban neighborhood, beach, desert, and so forth. Each illustration (rounded, as if viewed through a scope, with top and bottom edges bleeding off the page) fills three-quarters of the spread; the text, white on black, sits alongside. Five animals from the scene are identified in short paragraphs, and there’s a question (answers in the back). Some creatures or parts of creatures have been highlighted with phosphorescent paint, visible in darkness for a short while if the page has been held under a lamp for a few minutes. These illustrations invite repeated exploration; the glow-in-the-dark effect advertised on the cover is intriguing, but each page must be exposed separately, and the glow is not long-lasting. Children may need instruction beyond the book’s “turn off the lights to see what glows in the dark.” For the U.S. version of this French import, some European species have been replaced by more-familiar North American ones (the barred owl for the tawny owl, for example), and the text has been recast to include North American details. This makes these scenes a curious conglomeration but no less interesting for it.

Attention-grabbing if not truly glowing. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5319-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world.

DON'T LET THEM DISAPPEAR

An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species.

The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits—fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show. Still, Clinton’s accompanying tally of facts about each one’s habitat and daily routines, to which the title serves as an ongoing refrain, adds refreshingly unsentimental notes: “A single giraffe kick can kill a lion!”; “[S]hivers of whale sharks can sense a drop of blood if it’s in the water nearby, though they eat mainly plankton.” Along with tucking in collective nouns for each animal (some not likely to be found in major, or any, dictionaries: an “embarrassment” of giant pandas?), the author systematically cites geographical range, endangered status, and assumed reasons for that status, such as pollution, poaching, or environmental change. She also explains the specific meaning of “endangered” and some of its causes before closing with a set of doable activities (all uncontroversial aside from the suggestion to support and visit zoos) and a list of international animal days to celebrate.

A winning heads up for younger readers just becoming aware of the wider natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51432-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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