BEING FROG

This photo essay about the eponymous amphibian includes simple rhyming sentences both informative and appreciative.

The first verso states boldly: “A frog / is a being. / It is watching. / It is seeing.” The photograph across the gutter presents a close-up view of a green frog’s face against a blurry, muted, outdoor background. The simple verses scan well throughout. Many of the sentences use “It” to refer to the frog whose life is being studied; just one “It” has a different antecedent, which throws a slight curve during initial reading. However, this small book of relatively few words manages to say a lot. Some pages give readers a rudimentary understanding of a frog’s daily life and the life cycle of a frog. Others provide gentle reminders that these are sentient creatures whose lives are only partly understood by human beings. (“Does it ponder? / We don’t yet know.”) The excellent photography—with sharp images that join the text in provoking humor, interest, and reverence—attests to the author’s note about spending a good deal of time observing frogs at a nearby pond. The author’s note itself is lovely: While offering fascinating details about her own encounters with specific frogs, it also clarifies for young readers the difference between scientific and anecdotal research—and the value in both. The youngest readers will love the photographs and rhymes; slightly older children will also appreciate the author’s note.

Sound tadpole philosophy. (resources) (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2881-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.

CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES

From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach.

LITTLE DANDELION SEEDS THE WORLD

Dandelion seeds travel the world.

The story opens on an urban scene (possibly Cape Town) of a Black child whimsically blowing a dandelion, one fluffy seed floating “far, far away” to an undisclosed African plain. The book continues to describe the manner in which the seeds travel with the repeated refrain “swish, swirl, one hundred seeds fly.” The seeds are carried far and wide: one on the ear of a cheetah, another hitchhiking on a pant leg across the sea, a third in a bird’s droppings. The Howdeshells’ art is vibrant and engaging, taking care to include a diverse array of human racial presentations and details that establish each setting, the textured images focusing on indigenous fauna as the seeds fly. Of particular note is the lovely cover depicting a Black girl with natural hair. The seeds travel to Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. The entire globe is covered, including Antarctica, stretching a bit to match the conceit. An author’s note claims that “even chilly Antarctica has dandelions on the shoreline of South Georgia Island” as evidence for the plant’s reach to all seven continents. Whether South Georgia Island is part of Antarctica is arguable; it’s too bad the book makes this bland assertion. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1053-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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