Wordplay that is entertaining and mildly educational.

DO JELLYFISH LIKE PEANUT BUTTER?

AMAZING SEA CREATURE FACTS

From the Do Animals Animate? series

Playful questions and factual answers introduce 12 sea creatures.

Following up on Do Doodlebugs Doodle? (2018), their investigation of insects, this mother-and-daughter authorial pair again team up with illustrator Shi, this time to speculate about sea dwellers. Posing questions, including the one in the title, they ask about pilot whales, sea lions, trumpet fish, sea horses, lampreys, clown fish, football fish, skates, hammerhead sharks, starfish, and mussels. Each question is illustrated on a page or spread; a page turn reveals the answer, usually a resounding “No!” The jokes are clever: Lamprey eels aren’t “plugged in,” but they do connect by “attaching their mouths to a fish’s body,” and so forth. Except for the opening and closing spreads, the layout also reveals the difference between the jokey question, set above a rectangle with rounded corners that contains a painted interpretation, and the serious answer, set on a full-bleed image. The creatures are often anthropomorphized as part of the visual joke and shown more naturally on the page with the facts. Some images include human children; a pale-skinned child with brown hair in a double bun and a different brown-haired child with darker skin appear more than once. Noting that their examples include mammals, fish, and invertebrates, the authors provide a paragraph of further information about each of these animals in the backmatter (where they clarify that starfish are more properly called sea stars).

Wordplay that is entertaining and mildly educational. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943978-44-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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