An amiable, digestible visit to the wild kingdom for younger animal lovers.

THE ANIMAL AWARDS

Nature’s award show, with 50 creatures stepping, swimming, swooping, or slithering up to receive well-earned prizes.

Sporting gold medals around their necks or equivalent areas, the mildly anthropomorphized winners pose proudly in Freeman’s cartoon style portraits, then go on to demonstrate distinctive features or behavior, often alongside rows of runners-up, in additional views. Presented in no particular order (though there is an index), the honorees mix such no-brainers as the mound-building termite (“Amazing Architecture Award”) and chimpanzee (“The Nifty Tool-User Award”) with long shots such as the “Beautiful but Deadly” poison dart frog…and a few dark horses, from the lion’s mane jellyfish (“Tangliest Tentacles Award”) to dung beetles, which “spend their lives pushing poop around” and so walk away with the “Small but Strong Award.” There are some shared awards too, including four-way ties for good parenting (“The Family Awards”) and migratory range (“The Long Distance Awards”). Jenkins offers both appreciative introductions for each claimant and notes on diet, geographical range, and other basics. The smiling faces and low-key narrative have their appeal, though the heftier likes of Steve Jenkins’ Animal Book (2013) or Mark Carwardine’s Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records (2013) offer more naturalistic illustrations, and adrenaline junkies will respond more strongly to Anita Ganeri’s melodramatic Astonishing Animals, illustrated by Fiametta Dogi and Dan Cole (2015).

An amiable, digestible visit to the wild kingdom for younger animal lovers. (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-779-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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