Good for budding botanists who enjoy puns.

TREEMENDOUS

DIARY OF A NOT YET MIGHTY OAK

One oak narrates its own tale—with diary entries, illustrations, and diagrams—from its inception as an acorn to nearing the status of “mighty oak.”

From the start, the oak’s voice is perky and laden with wordplay, accompanied by colorful artwork that is best described as cutesy. The art dutifully complements the text: For example, the oak makes a joke about pines and Christmas decorations, and from that page on, smiling pine trees sport small, round red balls—evoking ornaments—and lots of pale-green ribbons tied into bows. The diary conceit allows readers to get an idea of how long it may take for each stage of an oak’s life, and the illustrations provide clear depictions of the parts that sprout from an acorn. Entries are written simply, but the text is on the lengthy side for an effective read-aloud, and it carries a fairly heavy informational load. There are concise explanations of photosynthesis, heartwood, and sapwood and a brief mention of trees’ value in fighting climate change, expressed in the oak’s typical manner: “Not to be sappy, but trees make the world a better place.” The corny but not unclever monologue would be easy to convert into a skit for children to perform—wearing costumes much more interesting than the book’s cartoony trees with their inked-on smiles and round, sometimes lashed eyes. One page shows a child and two adults in the background, all apparently White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64% of actual size.)

Good for budding botanists who enjoy puns. (timeline, further resources) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-57936-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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There may be an audience for this—but not in any library, classroom, group, or, particularly considering the pointy piece,...

HUMAN BODY

From the Scratch and Learn series

A very simple guide to (some) human anatomy, with scratch-off patches.

On sturdy board pages two cartoon children—one brown, one a sunburned pink—pose for cutaway views of select anatomical features. In most images certain parts, such as lungs and bladder on the “Organs” spread and both gluteus maximi on “Muscles,” are hidden beneath a black layer that can be removed with the flat end (or more slowly with the pointed one) of a wooden stylus housed in an attached bubble pack. With notable lack of consistency, the names of select organs or areas, with such child-centric additions as “A cut,” or “Poop,” are gathered in bulleted lists and/or placed as labels for arbitrarily chosen items in the pictures. It’s hard to envision younger readers getting more than momentary satisfaction from this, as they industriously scrape away and are invited to learn terms such as “Alveoli” and “Latissimus dorsi” that are, at best, minimally defined or described. Older ones in search of at least marginally systematic versions of the skeletal, sensory, nervous, and other (but not reproductive) systems will be even less satisfied. Even those alive to the extracurricular possibilities of a volume that contains, as one of the two warnings on the rear cover notes, a “functional sharp point,” will be disappointed.

There may be an audience for this—but not in any library, classroom, group, or, particularly considering the pointy piece, preschool setting. (Informational novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-323-9

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world.

EXTREME SURVIVORS

From the American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series

“Extreme” gets a broad definition (ticks?), but the first-rate photographs and easy-to-read commentary in this survey of animals adapted to harsh habitats will win over budding naturalists.

Sixteen creatures ranging from hot-springs bacteria and the tiny but nearly invulnerable water bear to sperm whales parade past, sandwiched between an introductory spread and a full gallery of thumbnails that works as a content review. The animals are presented in an ordered way that expedites comparisons and contrasts of body features or environments. The sharply reproduced individual stock photos were all taken in the wild and include a mix of close-up portraits, slightly longer shots that show surroundings and more distant eyewitness views. The Roops present concrete facts in simple language—“Penguins have feathers and thick fat to keep them warm”—and vary the structures of their two- to four-sentence passages so that there is never a trace of monotony. Like its co-published and equally inviting title, Melissa Stewart’s World’s Fastest Animals, this otherwise polished series entry closes with a marginally relevant small-type profile of a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Just the ticket to spark or nurture early interest in the wonders of the natural world. (Informational early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0631-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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