Definitely not your usual ABC book, this sophisticated approach will best appeal to science teachers and scientifically...

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ABCS FROM SPACE

A DISCOVERED ALPHABET

Ever wonder what the Earth looks like from space? This highly unusual and scientific alphabet book will intrigue those sky gazers who see shapes in the clouds.

A beginning “Note to Parents and Teachers” provides an explanation for the idea for the book that led to the search for alphabet letters in satellite images of Earth: “A few years ago, I noticed a cloud of smoke over Canada that had the shape of a V.” The full-page photos bleed off the page without any text, amplifying the drama of the visuals. A sandbar acts as the back of the D of Morocco’s Marchica Lagoon; Y is formed by the convergence of the Tigris and Great Zab rivers in Iraq. Some images are more distinct than others, ranging from swirls of color to squiggly lines, making discovery part of the process for readers. The author is a science writer for a NASA website, providing credibility. A five-page legend in the back cites the locations photographed and dates when the photos were taken. Backmatter has a two-page map that locates each of the letters, FAQs on both images and science, and a glossary. Similar in concept, ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky, by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee (2016), is more accessible to young readers learning their alphabet.

Definitely not your usual ABC book, this sophisticated approach will best appeal to science teachers and scientifically minded children. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9428-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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