Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Earth's food chain begins "with the help of the sun,/ the glorious, life-giving, fiery sun," which helps plants create sustenance. Bright, sound-rich rhyming verse engages throughout as the sun rises, the day progresses, and Jensen Shaffer (Emergency Kittens!) works her way up the chain. Silas Neal (All's Right with the World) zooms in close to watch a cricket munching on plant life, and a page turn reveals a deer mouse eyeing the insect ("The mouse from the thicket/ gobbled the cricket"). Each new event joins earlier lines, cumulatively repeating those that describe the plants and the "glorious, life-giving, fiery sun." A milk snake rears up behind the mouse, a hawk pursues the snake, a fox stalks the hawk, and a bear follows the fox until "this day was now done." But capture isn't inevitable. "Some days," the prey escapes ("The cricket that's fast/ hops away from the mouse"), and final pages visualize this truth, underscoring the roles that chance and speed play in the natural world. In this useful look at the food chain, readers see predator and prey together but never the moment of devouring, making for a STEM portrait suited to even sensitive readers. Back matter provides more about the featured flora and fauna. Ages 4--8. (Dec.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 3--Shaffer's newest book offers readers a lyrical view of a forest food chain. This rhyming story begins at sunrise, showing the sun providing light to help the trees and other plants make their food. Throughout the day, readers see how nature provides food for itself, from crickets eating the grass, mice eating the crickets, and so on until eventually they meet the king of the forest, the big black bear! The resiliency of these animals is also shown; sometimes they can make a quick escape from the larger animal who wants to eat them. The style of repetition in the story will attract fans who appreciate the cumulative events found in There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Neal shows a range of expressive colors in the illustrations, from calming pastels to vibrant brights, that help to expertly show the animals' actions. VERDICT This is an excellent introduction to the food chain, and will be especially popular among elementary science teachers.--Lauren White
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A rhymed climb up a food chain. Shaffer and Neal follow a series of creatures: plants that create their own food with the help of the "glorious, life-giving, fiery sun," a cricket that munches on grass, a mouse that eats the cricket, a red milk snake that swallows the mouse, a red hawk that hunts the mouse, a fox that pounces on the hawk, and, finally, a bear that makes a meal out of the fox. More bloodthirsty young readers may be disappointed that both author and illustrator largely leave out the CRUNCH! part of this natural progression--in the illustrations, only the foliage suffers, as none of the featured eaters are shown actually chowing down on animal prey, and the language is likewise abstract. The general concept is clear enough, though, and in both the cumulative rhyme and the nature notes at the end, Shaffer complements Neal's pettable-looking creature cast with easily digestible descriptions of behaviors and diets. The author properly acknowledges that this particular chain "occurs in a temperate deciduous forest," and if she never explicitly introduces the more complicated (and accurate) notion of food webs, she does finish off her narrative by noting that "some days" the fox gets away, whereupon the "hungry black bear / munches flowers and seeds… / all that she needs." Very simple, a little bland, but a good and read-aloud-ready way of introducing an important natural process. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-7) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.