A fascinating story with striking visuals.

MOTH

Thomas presents the peppered moth as an emblem of natural selection, tracking its adaptations during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.

The moth’s striking salt-and-pepper scales, which enhanced its camouflage during daytime rests on lichen, became an impediment as late-19th-century industrial pollution prevailed. As lichens died and industrial soot blackened tree bark, the species’ occasional dark moth’s advantages resulted in an adaptation. With the light, speckled moths more easily spotted and eaten by prey, surviving dark moths procreated, dominating the species within a 50-year time span. In turn, the answering trend toward pollution mitigation swung the pendulum back. Lichens reappeared, soot-stained bark fell away, and the light moths’ camouflage value reasserted itself, with both dark and light moths seen today. Thomas narrates this biological success story in past tense and simple, declarative prose. Egnéus’ lovely illustrations—in traditional mixed media and Photoshop—provide a stylized overview of the moth’s adaptive journey. The bilateral symmetry of the peppered moth’s wing coloration is ignored in favor of exquisite, dark umber–and-gray montages evoking dry-brushed ink blots and sun-dappled botanical silhouettes. Forest tableaux yield to industrialization’s coal-powered factories and locomotives, Egnéus’ palette morphs from natural hues to rust-red and soot-black—and back, to today’s tentative, hopeful blues. (Depicted humans are light-skinned and red-nosed.) An inspired choice for text type (Tom’s New Roman) and a gorgeous, silver-embellished cover enhance the package.

A fascinating story with striking visuals. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0020-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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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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