Nicely varied collection and a perennially popular subject.



From the Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries series

Even animals can be heroes, as evidenced by these true-life accounts from around the world.

These stories of animals rescuing people and other animals come from interviews with survivors and animal trainers. Markle draws readers in with a suspenseful tale of a whale saving a researcher in the South Pacific from an aggressive tiger shark and concludes with a heart-tugging picture of a dog comforting a child whose home in Peru has been destroyed by fire. In between, chapters introduce a lamb who comforts orphaned African large mammals, giant pouched rats who find buried land mines, a guide dog who came between her owner and an oncoming mini school bus, dogs who find survivors in destroyed buildings and under avalanches, other dogs who guard a penguin sanctuary, elephants who help clean up after a tsunami, and a cat who attacked a dog threatening a child. She describes the training of “HeroRATs” in considerable detail and includes callout boxes on endangered rhinos, land mines, rescue-dog training, and the lives of little penguins. This prolific nonfiction writer and confessed animal lover knows how to choose stories and details that will appeal to her readers, writing clearly and engagingly. Pronunciation for some names is provided in context, and the text is liberally supplemented with photographs and maps (sadly, nearly illegible blue silhouettes on a dark purple background) showing generally where the stories take place.

Nicely varied collection and a perennially popular subject. (author’s note, glossary, source note, further reference, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8122-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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



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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This carefully thought-out explanation may surprise but should be widely appreciated.



Moving up in target audience from their explanation of reproduction, What Makes a Baby (2013), Silverberg and Smyth explore various meanings for the word “sex.”

In their own ways, Zai, Cooper, Mimi, and Omar respond to information in chapters about bodies, “Boys, Girls, All of Us,” touch,  language, and “Crushes, Love, and Relationships.” With skin tones in unlikely shades (blue! purple! green!) and wildly diverse crowd scenes, chances are good that any reader can identify with someone in these pages. Refreshingly, these crowds are diverse in a way that does not appear assembled by checklist. Lively design, bright, clashing colors, cartoon-style illustrations, comic strips, and plenty of humor support the informal, inclusive approach. Each chapter ends with questions to think and talk about. The author’s respect for different approaches to the subject comes through. No actual sexual activities are described except for masturbation, in the chapter that also deals with “secret touches.” The gender chapter tells how gender is assigned but notes “there are more than two kinds of bodies.” The character Zai doesn’t identify as either boy or girl. Illustrations show body parts of kids and grown-ups (nipples, breasts, bottoms, and parts biologically specific to boys or girls) demonstrating wide variety. Puberty will be addressed in a third title.

This carefully thought-out explanation may surprise but should be widely appreciated. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-606-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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