Both too complicated and too simple at the same time.

MAMA MONARCH

Rhyming text follows a monarch butterfly’s migration from Mexico to the Great Lakes.

The couplets work. The poetic images are effective and evocative. But this abbreviated overview will confuse rather than enlighten very young children. The life cycle of the butterfly, that they are threatened, and how people can help them survive are hinted at but not explained. Scientific background printed in a tiny font is on the back cover. A simplified map—a concept that’s far more advanced than the rest of the text, which is mostly an enumeration of flowers—on the second page shows only the northern migration through the Midwest. Western swarms, the southbound route, and sites of winter roosts are not shown. Instead the text describes the flowering plants that provide nutrients for the monarch’s trip. Asters, thistle, a generic “vine,” sunflowers, dill, and clover are mentioned before the monarch finds a “welcome home” on milkweed. But explaining that she needs milkweed on which to lay her eggs is left to the adult sharing the reading experience, and the seasonality of the flowers is jumbled. The colorful blossoms and the monarch’s bright orange-and-black wing pattern stand out against sky-blue backgrounds. Reducing the complex and awe-inspiring process of monarch migration to pretty pictures and sweet words leaves out too much and suggests the topic is best left till readers are older.

Both too complicated and too simple at the same time. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-936669-81-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more