Light in tone but not content, an imaginative way to map comings and goings in the natural world.

ANIMAZES

EXTRAORDINARY ANIMAL MIGRATIONS

For young naturalists, an invitation to guide 14 animals through migratory rounds.

Castrillón (The Balcony, 2019) casts each route as a wandering maze through uncrowded landscapes or waterways, with a red flag showing where to start, a checkered flag at the midway point, and explanatory notes and prompts placed throughout. The animals range from the far-traveling likes of humpback whales and Arctic terns to the red crabs of Christmas Island, which scuttle out of the rainforest to mate on the shore and “flick their eggs into the sea.” “Migration” is defined broadly enough to include the daily ups and downs (“diel vertical migration”) of Antarctic krill and loosely enough to include the peregrinations of polar bears along with annual journeys such as that of Zambia’s straw-colored fruit bats or the sockeye salmon’s once-in-a-lifetime odyssey. Obliquely acknowledging the often high attrition rates with occasional skulls or scatterings of bones, she recognizes the hazards migratory species face. Her animals are small cartoon figures that generally smile and often even cavort friskily about while both animal and human predators lurk on the sidelines watching. Piecemeal though it is, the narrative will leave younger readers with a basic grounding in the concept, and the mazes are simple enough that the visual key to their routes at the end may go unneeded.

Light in tone but not content, an imaginative way to map comings and goings in the natural world. (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0853-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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