Review: The Not-So-Brave Penguin

Not-So-Brave Penguin

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

Posy is a very anxious little penguin–she’s scared of all sorts of things and is very worried when her adventurous friend, Percy, goes missing on an iceberg. Will friendship win out over her fears and will she be able to save her friend?

A very cute story about overcoming your fears and being a good friend. Posey is a character that I can definitely see anxious kids feeling empathy towards in the beginning, and hopefully, also being able to learn from her actions at the end. She is also able to overcome not just her self-doubts, but also ignore the adult penguins’ unhelpful advice to “not worry”. Percy is also a great friend, acknowledging Posey’s bravery.

A final page includes brief lessons and activities that parents or teachers can do with kids to help them get the most out of the message of bravery. But even without any moralistic analysis, the story is a fun read and is complimented by very sweet artwork.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Storytime: The Not-So-Brave Penguin is available now from QEB Publishing.
Author: Steve Smallman
Goodreads|Barnes & Noble


Review: The Writer’s Map

The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands

Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars.

A love letter to literary maps, written by 24 writers and illustrators. Each brief essay gives the reader a glimpse into the author’s childhood, creative process, what maps they’ve found to be most influential on their careers as illustrators of maps or authors of books with maps (and oftentimes, both). The essays are complemented by many photos of a variety of maps, ranging from historical atlases to drafts of worlds (including original drafts of Narnia and Mordor) to the final elaborate endpaper maps.

Each essay focuses on the author’s personal experience with maps and adventure, and how they morphed that into their creative employment of today. Some focus more on their present works, detailing their processes of how they start mapping before they write (or sometimes the other way round), while others detail their journey through maps of childhood, whether mapping their childhood explorations or losing themselves in the endpaper maps of a kids book.

Even if some of the essayist’s names don’t immediately sound familiar, after reading their essays (or their bios), you’ll realize you’ve likely been familiar with their work for quite some time. Although many of their journeys and observations are similar, they each have their own path that brought them to their love of maps today–much like a map itself.

While I was hoping for a bit more of a historical bent to the book, rather than personal essays, I still enjoyed the journey through multitudes of worlds and maps, and was introduced to a few new books and maps along the way (most influential find: “An ancient mappe of Fairyland” from Bernard Sleigh).

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands is available now from University of Chicago Press.
Editor: Huw Lewis-Jones
Goodreads|Barnes & Noble

Review: Chilly da Vinci


Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

Chilly is a penguin inventor in the vein of Leonardo da Vinci, experimenting with a variety of mechanical machines. One of his experiments goes awry, stranding him and some friends on an iceberg, with an orca circling and nibbling away at the berg. Will Chilly be able to save himself and his friends with his inventions in time?

The play on da Vinci’s name isn’t only cute, but also quite appropriate, seeing as da Vinci dreamed of flying and Chilly, a flightless baby penguin, does the same. His observations of the success and failures of his varying projects are short, journal-like notes, transposed over adorable full page illustrations. The end leaves are also clever, highlighting many of the quirks of da Vinci’s own notebooks, such as backward handwriting samples and sketches of penguin-versions of some famous paintings and doodles.

The story as a whole wasn’t incredibly captivating for me, as it really didn’t feel to cohesive due to the note nature of the text. However, the illustrations are incredibly fun and there is a positive message about focusing on solving problems by observing the world around you and taking note of what things have worked in the past. It would be a fun addition to a science unit focused on mechanics and flight!

Chilly is pretty much the definition of adorkable, and I would love to see Chilly go on more adventures in the future!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Chilly da Vinci will be available December 4, 2018 from NorthSouth Books.
Author & Illustrator: Jarrett Rutland
Goodreads|Barnes & Noble

Review: The Fall of the Wild

The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation

Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars.

Incredibly thought-provoking and captivating all the way throughout. Minteer provides a baseline introduction to the ethical and moral dilemmas of the world of conservation, and does so in a relatively non-technical way, making it accessible for all readers.

Covering topics ranging from the role of zoos & wildlife parks in conservation and scientific collection of specimens to more controversial assisted colonization and de-extinction, Minteer introduces the topic and a brief history of it and covers the modern debates surrounding the topic, some of which are surprising where many scientists and conservations stand.

The most infuriating topic, with a head-desk worthy ideology, for me was the ethical justification behind collecting specimens for scientific research and record. Killing at least one or two members of a species of any type of creature and preserving it for further scientific study and research has been a common method for centuries. But given the modern concern with conserving species and being more aware of the possibility that a newly discovered species may already be endangered, it would make sense that kill-collecting specimens would occur less frequently, especially given many technological advances in monitoring that have been introduced in the past few decades.

I was surprised to learn that kill-collecting is still very common, highly defended in many circles, and is encouraged to an extreme. Many scientists believe it’s actually better to collect more specimens of a rare, likely rare, or rediscovered species, justifying that they’re preserving the few remaining individuals for historical record. If they didn’t do this, they argue, then it would be difficult to study the species in the future and would also provide an opportunity for the public to see the species, as the specimens could be shown in multiple museums.

The ethical debate about zoos and wildlife parks didn’t add too much to the equation, I didn’t think, although it did focus substantially on discussing Zootopia (the expansion to Denmark’s Givskud Zoo, not the movie). Intended to be an immersive experience for visitors and minimally invasive for the animals, it’s an interesting idea, but raises questions about where the “wild” ends and a manufactured habitat begins.

Assisted colonization and de-extinction receive ample chapters discussing not only the ethical dilemmas, but also providing historical perspective of the issues, which added even more depth to the arguments being made.

Minteer does inject not only his view, but some of the research he himself has done and written about for these various topics. He isn’t completely removed from the narrative, but he is relatively transparent when he includes his own research and conclusions.

While the subject matter might be a relatively niche interest, if you’re at all interested in conservation and the ethics surrounding it, I’d highly recommend this book! It raises some truly fascinating questions.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation will be available December 4, 2018 from Columbia University Press.
Author: Ben A. Minteer
Goodreads|Barnes & Noble

Review: Loading Penguin Hugs

Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars

Absolutely as adorable and inspiring as expected. Although I am not usually a person to search out positive affirmations like the ones here, I just cannot resist the adorableness of the drawings–especially the penguin! Each page has a doodle with an adorable animal or human friend wishing you positivity, encouragement, or a word of advice. They provide your daily dose of cuteness *and* inspiration, and it’s the best. I’m not sure how many of these have already been published online and how many are new to the book, but if you love these little comics, or know a friend who would, it’s the perfect addition to your bookshelf.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird will be available November 13, 2018 from Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Author & Illustrator: Jacqueline Chen

Review: The 50 State Fossils


Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.
NetGalley Rating: 5 stars.

I was pleasantly surprised how comprehensive and informative this is! It will make the perfect addition to any young dinosaur/prehistory lovers shelf, as it contextualizes many dinosaurs and prehistoric life–some widely known, some not–in a new way, state-by-state. It’s also a great way to teach the states to youngsters through a lens they’re sure to be interested in. It does have relatively advanced vocabulary, but I wouldn’t let that deter purchase at all. If anything, it’s an even better reason to buy it, as it can be a read-aloud book, with fun pictures, and kids can grow into it, returning to favorite states or fossils as they get better at reading.

Each state’s fossil, which includes dinos as well as trace fossils and some plants, is given a brief history, an inset state map showing where the fossils can be found in the state, a fun illustration of the critter or plant, and supplementary photos. For states that don’t have a fossil, Wang suggests a possible fossil that has been found and has relevance to the state already. A brief introduction gives info on what fossils are, how they’re formed, and how state fossils become official.

Having loved “state-by-state fact” books as a kid and still having never truly grown out of my dinosaur phase, I very much enjoyed perusing this (I even learned some new facts!), and would highly recommend it to the next generation of prehistoric-obsessed pupils.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists will be available October 28, 2018 from Schiffer Publishing.
Author: Yinan Wang|Illustrator: Jane Levy
Goodreads|Amazon|Publisher’s Website

Review: 100 Knits: Interweave’s Ultimate Pattern Collection

100 Knits: Interweave's Ultimate Pattern Collection

Goodreads Rating: n/a–would be 3.5 stars.
NetGalley Rating: 4 stars.

An inspiring collection of 100 of Interweave Knits’ best patterns. These are taken from the magazine, as well as Knitscene, special holiday issues, and a few books, and as expected from Interweave patterns they’re gorgeously photographed and the instructions are detailed yet succinct.

The majority of patterns (I think about half) are for sweaters, cardigans, tanks, and tees, with the accessories including shawls, scarves, hats, and a few socks. I was disappointed that there were no mitten or glove patterns, nor any patterns for home accessories (like blankets, pillows, etc) or bags. There is also only one sweater specifically sized for men, and only one pattern for kids (a sock), so if you’re looking for a “family” knits book this might not be it.

There’s a wide range of skill levels and techniques used in the patterns, mainly cables and lace, but there’s some Fair Isle and brioche patterns as well. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a “beginner” book–there were only a couple patterns I would have considered “advanced beginner”–as most patterns involved not only interesting stitches, but also unique construction elements. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t recommend it to a newer knitter though! There are enough patterns in here that are a good compromise between easy and challenging that can help newer knitters build skills.

As I was adding some of these patterns to my Ravelry queue, I noticed that most of them are from more recent issues of Interweave publications, from about 2013 up through 2017. There are, of course, older patterns, but of the about 10 I found queue-worthy, 9 of them were in that year range. If you subscribe to Interweave magazine, and keep your back issues, then you might find a lot of redundant patterns here.

I am not much of a popular knitter–I don’t knit fad patterns–so I honestly didn’t find this book worthwhile of buying. However, it’s definitely one I would check out from the library for inspiration and to follow the few patterns I did add to my queue.

If do enjoy knitting popular patterns, then I would definitely recommend purchasing it and expanding your wardrobe with these amazing patterns!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

100 Knits: Interweave’s Ultimate Pattern Collection is available now from F+W Media!