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 For the U.S. version of this French import, some European species have been replaced by more-familiar North American ones (the barred owl for the tawny owl, for example), and the text has been recast to include North American details.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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It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF PLANET EARTH

Flaps, pull tabs, and pop-ups large and small enhance views of our planet’s inside, outside, atmosphere, biosphere, and geophysics.

It’s a hefty, high-speed tour through Earth’s features, climates, and natural resources, with compressed surveys of special topics on multileveled flaps and a spread on the history of life that is extended by a double-foldout wing. But even when teeming with small images of land forms, wildlife, or diverse groups of children and adults, Balicevic’s bright cartoon illustrations look relatively uncrowded. Although the quality of the paper engineering is uneven, the special effects add dramatic set pieces: Readers need to hold in place a humongous column of cumulonimbus clouds for it to reach its full extension; a volcano erupts in a gratifyingly large scale; and, on the plate-tectonics spread, a pull tab gives readers the opportunity to run the Indian Plate into the Eurasian one and see the Himalayas bulge up. A final spread showing resources, mostly renewable ones, being tapped ends with an appeal to protect “our only home.” All in all, it’s a likely alternative to Dougal Jerram’s Utterly Amazing Earth, illustrated by Dan Crisp and Molly Lattin (2017), being broader in scope and a bit more generous in its level of detail.

It’s nothing new in territory or angle, but it’s still a serviceable survey with reasonably durable moving parts. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 979-1-02760-562-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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