A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one.

MY FIRST KITTEN

From the My First series

Kitten care presented early-reader style.

“Something soft and furry / Is coming home with me. // It is my new kitten. / She is as sweet as can be!” First-person, easy-reading text describes meeting the kitten, feeding the kitten, playing with the kitten, then taking it to the vet and keeping it safe. The first half of this volume is presented in rhyme with Wachter's photos of real children of various races and their kittens (always the same kitten-and-child pairings) imposed on simple cartoon backgrounds. On other pages, photos of kittens (all cute as the dickens) leaping, scratching, running, and sleeping appear against similar backgrounds. The second half reiterates the same information but in more detail. It passes on instructions in simple language for tasks like introducing a kitten to its litter box and interpreting the sounds and body language of your new furry friend. Jumping the species barrier, Biscuit creator Capucilli does a fine job of instructing young, new pet owners in the care of their wee feline friends in this companion to My First Puppy (2019). This helpful guidebook ends with a message encouraging aspiring young pet friends to adopt from shelters. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-12-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85.7% of actual size.)

Good advice and good reading practice rolled into one. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7754-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A fun, educational science book that thoughtfully portrays kids of color engaging with and learning from nature and each...

I LOVE INSECTS

From the I Like To Read series

In her latest science-focused picture book, Rockwell offers perspectives from two kids with opposing opinions about insects.

A Black girl with long braids and glasses announces her love of insects while a boy of Asian descent, who drops his sandwich running from two houseflies, says he hates them. Throughout this picture book, which teems with color and motion, the girl focuses on the positives, like their beauty, role as pollinators, and benefits to the soil, as the boy highlights the negatives, like their penchant for stinging, the ugliness of insects like fleas, and the damage some such as aphids do to plants. Readers can decide for themselves whether the two protagonists find some points of agreement. The final double-page spread illustrates all of the insects that appear in the book and invites readers to revisit earlier pages to find them, including butterflies, beetles, bees, a mosquito, a cricket, and more. This informational early reader employs a controlled vocabulary that intentionally repeats words and phrases to facilitate independent reading. Many recognizable insects appear in the book, like the field cricket and the bumblebee, but Rockwell also includes some, such as the little wood satyr butterfly and the cucumber beetle, that will pique curiosity and encourage budding entomologists to explore further to learn about bugs they’ve never met.

A fun, educational science book that thoughtfully portrays kids of color engaging with and learning from nature and each other. (Informational early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4759-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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