Another winner for young animal lovers.



Rotner adds to her striking collection of children’s books featuring her photography with this beginning look at animals’ life cycles.

Mindful of the youngest children, the author keeps things simple by placing each animal on a single spread, one phrase describing the life stages (with appropriate vocabulary: hatchling, lamb, piglet) as they unfold in the three to six photographs that span the pages, and what photos they are! “Egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly” includes six photos, one each of the first three, and then three showing the monarch butterfly inside the now-clear chrysalis, unfolding its wings, and perched on a pink flower. The gangly foal progresses from wobbly infancy to a sturdy colt to a full-grown stallion, its tail and mane grown in and its coat glossy. Of the 14 animals presented, seven begin as eggs (frog, bird, chicken, turtle, snake, lizard), six are common on farms or as pets (rabbit, pig, sheep, horse, cat, dog), and the last is, appropriately, a human. While the robin hatchling is shown in its rather ugly, featherless stage, the chick is not, and of the kit, kitten, and puppy, only the final is shown as a newborn with eyes still shut tight. The backmatter includes three life-cycle diagrams (butterfly, bird, frog), a brief glossary, and a list of “breeds” shown in the photos (several are members of individual species rather than breeds, a distinction that is not clarified by the short, accompanying definition). The few humans pictured are diverse in gender and racial presentation.

Another winner for young animal lovers. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4828-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.


From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach.


Dandelion seeds travel the world.

The story opens on an urban scene (possibly Cape Town) of a Black child whimsically blowing a dandelion, one fluffy seed floating “far, far away” to an undisclosed African plain. The book continues to describe the manner in which the seeds travel with the repeated refrain “swish, swirl, one hundred seeds fly.” The seeds are carried far and wide: one on the ear of a cheetah, another hitchhiking on a pant leg across the sea, a third in a bird’s droppings. The Howdeshells’ art is vibrant and engaging, taking care to include a diverse array of human racial presentations and details that establish each setting, the textured images focusing on indigenous fauna as the seeds fly. Of particular note is the lovely cover depicting a Black girl with natural hair. The seeds travel to Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. The entire globe is covered, including Antarctica, stretching a bit to match the conceit. An author’s note claims that “even chilly Antarctica has dandelions on the shoreline of South Georgia Island” as evidence for the plant’s reach to all seven continents. Whether South Georgia Island is part of Antarctica is arguable; it’s too bad the book makes this bland assertion. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1053-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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