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review 2020-06-26 03:09
Last Firehawk Book #8 - The Silver Swamp
The Silver Swamp - Katrina Charman

Audience: Early Elementary (1st-3rd)

Format: Ebook/Library Copy


Tag and Skyla stood in a dusty clearing and examined the magical map.

- first sentence

This is a cute story, with animal main characters who are on a quest. This is the first book of the series I read, but the kids at school love it. There is an introduction at the beginning of the book to remind kids what the characters are currently facing (the story continues from book to book).  The Branches books are a gentle bridge into chapter books for early readers. They still have pictures, but the stories are more complex and interesting. A great series for kids who like magical animals and adventure.

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review 2020-06-15 18:47
Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis
Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis - Andrew Reeves

 Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis is environmental journalist Andrew Reeves' in-depth look at just how the Asian Carp species that were brought into the United States to help solve one environmental issue ended up causing one of the biggest threats to the Great Lakes to date.  Reeves gets to the heart of the matter by going back to the beginning when the first carp were brought over as well as looking into what invasive species are as a whole and their impact on the environment. 

As an environmental scientist who lives on one of the Great Lakes, Overrun was of particular interest to me.  I do a lot of education on invasive species and wanted to learn more about these species of fish.  Overrun is a very comprehensive look at the Asian Carp crisis over time.  You do not need to be a scientist to understand the issue at all.  Reeves tells the story of these misunderstood fish through a series of interviews with those who have worked with the fish from the beginning, his own research and observations from the field.  I was very interested in exactly how the species of Asian Carp were brought to the US and was meant to be an ecologically friendly alternative to herbicides in order to clean up waterways. Unfortunately, after this step it seems like everything went wrong for the Asian Carp.  Reeves conducts intriguing interviews with those who were responsible for the first Asian Carp in the country, those dealing with their impacts and those trying to solve the crisis.   I also enjoyed his time in the field working with the fish and seeing the issues that they caused.  I was most amazed by just how resilient these fish are, it seems that everyone has underestimated them.  The money that has gone into these fish is astounding, because of this alone I can't believe that more people aren't interested in this issue.  In addition, their presence has seemed to create a domino effect of other issues in waterways and riparian ecosystems including environmental justice issues.  Overall, the Asian Carp crisis highlights human's relationship with water and nature and the unintended consequences of our actions.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2020-06-07 09:32
The Not Bad Animals
The Not Bad Animals - Sophie Corrigan

Fake news is nothing new, and not only human suffer from it. This is a collection of animals who have bad reputations, which is often based on untrue or highly exaggerated superstitions. To help overcome the stigmas, an overview of all the bad stuff per animal is given, followed by information to put it all in perspective.

Lovely book with nice and cute drawings that might teach children that there are always two sides to each story.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2020-06-01 23:23
Moto and Me
Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom - Suzi Eszterhas

 Suzi Eszterhas  is a wildlife photographer on the Masai Mara Preserve in Kenya. Suzi is asked if she would like to foster an serval kitten that was brought in by a tourist group after a fire. Suzi readily accepts and takes on the additional role of wildlife rehabilitator to Moto, the serval.  As Moto's adopted mother, Suzi must learn how to care for Moto and teach him how to be a serval in the wild, just like Moto's real mom would have done so he can go back to the wild once more.  

Moto and me is a fun and informative inside look at wildlife rehabilitation and the life of a serval.  This nonfiction book is aimed at children aged 5-10.  The pictures were all very cute and obviously amazing, taken by Suzi herself.  They documented Moto's life with her from kittenhood to an adult cat and give readers a chance to see Moto learning how to be a Serval as well as techniques that Suzi used in Moto's rehabilitation.  Along with this are great lessons about African animals, life cycles and the importance of leaving wildlife in the wild.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2020-05-31 00:15
Nyankees (manga, vol. 1) by Atsushi Okada, translated by Caleb Cook
Nyankees, Vol. 1 - Atsushi Okada,Caleb D. Cook

This series stars a bunch of stray cats who are usually depicted as tough human thugs and gang members. Ryuusei is a newcomer in Nekonaki, the territory ruled by Taiga and his gang. He doesn't always think before getting into fights, but he's tough and has the scars to prove it. Taiga and the others think he might be looking to steal some territory, but in reality the only thing he's interested in is finding a mysterious calico tom with a scarred eye. There's a chance that the cat Ryuusei wants to find is the new leader of the Goblin Cat Tails, but in order to meet him he'll first have to fight his way through a bunch of cats trying to create a cat utopia.

The main reason I got this was because of the cats. And also, the "cats depicted as people" aspect reminded me a little of Hatoful Boyfriend (although I suppose that was "birds briefly depicted as people"). Based on what I've seen of the cat politics around my apartment building, depicting cats as thugs duking it out for pieces of territory seemed like something that would work well.

The art was decent: nice clean lines, cats that were usually drawn well (the legs were occasionally weird), and easy-to-follow action. I liked the way Okada worked aspects of each cats' fur pattern into their clothing design. For example, Taiga, an orange tabby, wore a jacket with tabby stripes on it. Design-wise, Madara was my favorite, both in his human and cat versions. As a cat, he was a tortoiseshell (which would probably be hell to draw consistently if Madara became a regular character). In his human form, his tortoiseshell pattern became a coat with a camo pattern.

The humor was so-so. A few crass moments, like when Ryuusei tried to hit on Mii, or when a panel focused on Ryuusei's jiggling feline balls (so many cat testicles in this). There was also the bit with Ryuusei and the box. Honestly, it's amazing he's survived this long.

The whole "cats depicted as people" thing seemed a little inconsistent. It wasn't quite that these were cats sometimes shown as people but still 100% cats - Okada occasionally drew them in poses that weren't natural for cats but were natural for their human depictions. But behavior-wise, they also weren't just cats with people's minds. It was a bit weird.

Unfortunately, the characters and story didn't capture my attention at all. The characters did a lot of shouting and posturing but didn't otherwise stand out much. The one moment Ryuusei really stood out, for example, was when he demonstrated a willingness to show his belly to humans in order to charm them into giving him food. Otherwise, though, he was mostly Main Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot and Is Occasionally Silly. Taiga was Leader Tough Guy Who Shouts a Lot. Then there was Kinbi and Ginbi, aka Tough Villain Guys With Dreadlocks Who Shout a Lot. And Mii was The Girl. I assume this world has more than one female cat in it, but you wouldn't know it from what you saw in this volume. I liked that it was noted that the volume's male calico and tortoiseshell were both rare, but it would have been nice to see more female characters.

It was a little confusing, but it sounded like the male calico Ryuusei was looking for was maybe someone he looked up to at some point. Other than that, I have no idea why finding this particular cat was so important to him. I also don't know that I care enough to buy any more of this, although there's a possibility I might check out a library copy of the next volume one day.


A page of translator's notes, which for some reason is included just before the final chapter in the volume, and a couple full-color illustrations.

A missed opportunity: the volume was peppered with cat-related terms that readers might not necessarily know, like clowder and molly, so a page devoted to those might have been a good idea.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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