A winning mix of solid fact and undisguised fun.



From the What if You Had . . .? series

Wouldn’t you want stinging tentacles or superpowerful crab claws?

Markle and McWilliam continue their tour of the animal sphere begun with What If You Had Animal Teeth? (2013). Markle supplies scientific descriptions of nine marine creatures accompanied by photographic close-ups and realistic renderings, and McWilliam adds big, funny cartoon views of a thoroughly diverse cast of chimerically altered children sporting, essentially, superpowers. Who, after all, wouldn’t love to have the ability to squeeze through a chain-link fence like the giant Pacific octopus, slide over an icy sidewalk in the shell of a loggerhead sea turtle, or blow up like a starry pufferfish to float over a parade? Each animal is given two double-page spreads. On the first, a photograph appears on the verso, with a lively paragraph explaining the attribute explored, while McWilliam’s illustration on recto comically imagines a human child exploiting that attribute. The following double-page spread provides further information including size, life span, and diet along with information about juveniles of the species and another cartoon. Appealing equally to curiosity about the real world and to readers’ sense of play, this makes a natural companion for other eye-widening explorations of the deep like Corrine Demas and Artemis Roerig’s Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter?, illustrated by Ellen Shi (2020), and Brenda Z. Guiberson’s The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea, illustrated by Gennady Spirin (2015).

A winning mix of solid fact and undisguised fun. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35607-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Overall, an appealing collection for readers who like superlatives.



Outsize animals have thrived in diverse environments since before the age of dinosaurs and can still be found today.

The prolific Gifford here introduces a selection of some of the largest reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, and insects ever to live on Earth. The information is presented in topical spreads, with one to several big animals to a page. On the introductory spread, Gifford speculates about possible reasons for such extraordinary sizes. An accompanying illustration shows a brown-skinned scientist studying fossils in the field. Gifford’s selections are organized into three sections, covering animals of the past on land and in water followed by animals of today. Short descriptions of each animal make up most of the text. Each spread includes silhouettes comparing the sizes of the animals on the page to a human adult and child. A center gatefold shows a timeline of life on Earth, and a final spread introduces some smaller animals that are the largest of their kind (the goliath frog, the Komodo dragon). Gray’s illustrations feature colorful dinosaurs and accurately portrayed modern animals, many in appropriate environments. The clear organization and bite-sized chunks of information make this quite accessible to young lovers of animals past and present. No sources are provided, but a paleontologist is credited as consultant.

Overall, an appealing collection for readers who like superlatives. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-78312-850-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Welbeck Children's

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Weak of content but heartfelt of tone and with eye-catching illustrations.



Intricate cut-paper montages featuring almost invisibly embedded wild animals accompany a plea to be concerned about threatened and endangered species.

Arranged along the lines of their previous search-and-find outings, Animal Habitats (2019) and Animal Camouflage (2017), the book presents a sampling of the endangered animals found in each of seven generic habitats: rainforest, desert, ocean, savanna, mountains, forest, and polar. Dennis highlights Hutchinson’s brief introductions to select wildlife first with a set of technically adroit individual cut-paper portraits and then, with a page turn, a challenging full-page collective tangle of flora and fauna tailor made for poring over. The author hasn’t really done his homework, as he hilariously mischaracterizes the black rhino as a “gentle giant” and also supplies incorrect “Red List” ratings for several entries, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Furthermore, of the nine chosen examples in each group, two or three at one end of the spread are rated “least concern” or “data deficient” (and therefore quite possibly not threatened) on the IUCN List, and one or two at the opposite end are already “extinct” or “extinct in the wild”—which rather cuts down on the number of creatures on display that are actually endangered. Poor copy editing also compromises the presentation’s effectiveness.

Weak of content but heartfelt of tone and with eye-catching illustrations. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61689-940-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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