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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Inspiring and “kraut-chi-licious.”


From the Food Heroes series , Vol. 4

A biography of food-fermentation guru Sandor Katz.

Colorful, stylized art and playful, accessible text draw in readers, beginning with the endpapers’ beautiful cabbages. First, Katz is shown in his world-renowned fermentation school in Walnut Ridge, Tennessee, where his kitchen lies inside a house with a “crickety-crockety porch.” Next, readers learn of his boyhood in New York City, where he grows up loving fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kosher dill pickles. As a young man, Katz watches friends dying of AIDS and then learns that he is HIV-positive. He decides that the best way to take better care of himself is to leave his beloved city and “join a community of queer folks” in rural Tennessee. When their farm is overpopulated with ready-to-harvest cabbage, Katz is inspired to try his hand at sauerkraut. Soon, he combines that recipe with Korean kimchi spices and creates something that he dubs “kraut-chi.” A dazzling double-page spread shows him and his living partners at table as they dub him “Sandorkraut.” Katz markets his product and eventually travels the world, teaching, learning, and writing about fermented foods. The simple instructions—“chop, salt, squeeze, pack, and wait”—become the foundation for an accessible, six-step recipe at the end. Fermentation definitions are deftly sprinkled throughout the pages. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Inspiring and “kraut-chi-licious.” (notes from the author, the illustrator, and Katz; additional facts, bibliography, resources) (Picture-book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-9980477-1-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity.



Creatively stylized images of flora and fauna native to some 15 deserts around the world.

Interspersing her examination with closer looks at camels and at sand dunes, the bird communities associated with acacia trees, and like intriguing sidelights, Tzomaka poses groups of select residents from all three types of desert (hot, cold, and coastal) against sere backdrops, with pithily informative comments on characteristic behaviors and survival strategies. But significant bits of her presentation are only semilegible, with black type placed on deep blue or purple backgrounds. And rarely (if ever) have desert animals looked so…floral. Along with opting for a palette of bright pinks, greens, and purples rather than natural hues for her flat, screen-print–style figures, Tzomaka decorates them with contrasting whirls of petals and twining flourishes, stars, scallops, pinwheels, and geometric lines or tessellations. Striking though these fancies are, artistic license has led her into some serious overgeneralizations, as she claims to be drawing on regional folk motifs for inspiration—justifying the ornate ruffs and borders on creatures of the Kalahari with a vague note that “African tribes make accessories and jewelry…decorated with repeated lines, circles and dots,” for instance, and identifying a Northwest Coastal pattern on an arctic fox as “Inuit.” Readers may find less shifty footing in more conventional outings like Jim Arnosky’s Watching Desert Wildlife (1998).

A promising debut spoiled by a design issue and cultural insensitivity. (map, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65198-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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