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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Sketchy text notwithstanding, an eye-filling gallery of creature features.

LIFE-SIZE ANIMALS

AN ILLUSTRATED SAFARI

Nature large in tooth and claw.

Ample enough in trim size (double-page spreads are 15 inches high by 22.4 inches wide) to offer a frontal view of a tiger’s face on the cover and full-body portraits within of evocatively named creatures including both the goliath frog and the goliath birdeater tarantula, this album of digital paintings rivals Steve Jenkins’ classic Actual Size (2004) for both realism and visual drama. Along with portraying the jagged dentifrice of a white shark and the eyes of an elephant, a blue whale, and a giant squid from just inches away, Grott intersperses collective gatherings of naturally posed animal relatives in full or partial views, plus select galleries of outsized tongues, claws, tails, and other parts. Schiavo occasionally waxes grandiose in her one- to three-sentence captions, dubbing bats “Lords of the Night,” for instance and, even less plausibly, hummingbirds “Warriors of the Sun.” She also leaves armchair naturalists unenlightened about how a ball python could keep its eggs warm, how a goliath frog’s lack of vocal sacs would amplify its croaking, or the significance of a musk deer’s pointy “primordial” canines. Still, she does offer common names and measurements (albeit and regrettably in English units only) for each subject.

Sketchy text notwithstanding, an eye-filling gallery of creature features. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Convincing evidence that the boundaries between us and them aren’t all that sharp.

HUMANIMAL

INCREDIBLE WAYS ANIMALS ARE JUST LIKE US!

Eye-opening discoveries for readers who think only humans grieve, play, or admire themselves in mirrors.

Claiming the titular word (wrongly) as his own coinage, Lloyd develops the theme that many animals display behavior or characteristics once thought exclusively human, from living in cities (termites) to feeling emotions like love and grief (elephants, bonobos). The author extends commonly seen examples: Yes, as Jane Goodall has proven, chimps do use tools, but so do Australian black kites, which have been seen carrying burning sticks from fires to nearby grasslands to stir up prey. He also points to observations of bees communally deciding on where to establish a new hive; ravens repeatedly rolling down hills for, evidently, fun; and even slime molds showing a knack for constructing networks between food sources that rival for efficiency anything that civil engineers can concoct. In many reports he names animal researchers (though all but two of the 15 in his closing biographical gallery are white and European or American) and describes specific incidents or experiments. Ruffle adds big, boldly hued views of stylized but expressively posed, easily recognizable creatures against monochromatic or simplified natural backgrounds. The rare human figures are nearly all actual portraits.

Convincing evidence that the boundaries between us and them aren’t all that sharp. (index, selected scientific publications) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-01-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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