Informative and entertaining; good for ocean units, displays, or just plain browsing.

THE CRAB ALPHABET BOOK

Who knew there were so many kinds of crabs? At least 26, in fact.

Pallotta is known for his many alphabet books, ringing the abecedarian changes on such subjects as construction equipment, victory gardens, “icky bugs,” herbs and spices, and dinosaurs, to name just a few. Here, he brushes the sand off of crabs from A to Z. Readers will learn that crabs are decapods, a term that means 10 feet, with crabs qualifying by having eight legs and two claws. The subject itself is intriguing, and paired with Leonard’s realistic acrylic illustrations, the result is striking. Many readers would know a few types, such as fiddler, blue, (zebra) hermit, and king, but most will likely be a surprise: Christmas Island, Halloween, mitten, ghost, velvet, xeno, and yeti. Kids will giggle at the ninja crab and the pom pom crab (which “holds venomous anemones in its claws”). The book is nicely designed, with a capital and lowercase letter in the top corner of each page and the illustration framed with a white border. Humorous notes (“please don’t call a grumpy teacher a crabby teacher—it’s not nice!”) and informational tidbits (“If a crab loses a claw or a leg, it grows back”) appear in faux hand-lettered callout boxes throughout. The Sea Mammal Alphabet Book publishes simultaneously, struggling a bit to meet the ABC format and lacking the impressive unity of this title.

Informative and entertaining; good for ocean units, displays, or just plain browsing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-57091-144-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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