Like a meteor shower on an overcast night, this book’s dazzling premise is ultimately obscured by a few fatal flaws.

STAR STORIES

CONSTELLATION TALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

A collection of international stories about the stars, retold by veteran children’s author Ganeri.

In this unusual compendium, Ganeri gathers traditional stories about the cosmos from across six continents. Unlike other star-lore collections that focus solely on ancient Greek folklore and nomenclature, Ganeri features tales from Inuit, Incan, Maori, Sumerian, and other societies, occasionally highlighting the names of constellations as they are known from that culture’s perspective. Each story is introduced by a brief contextualizing paragraph and is accompanied by illustrations from multidisciplinary artist Wilx, whose work employs bold outlines and rich colors. Laudable in its scope, the collection reminds young readers that the stars were not only observed from a Western vantage—for example, the three stars that ancient Greeks saw as Orion’s Belt are known to Tongans as “Alotulu, ‘three in a boat,’ ” and Orion himself was known as Osiris to ancient Egyptians. However, Ganeri’s narrative style fails to captivate over the 23 tales, and there are no appendices on further reading and reference materials. Many Indigenous oral traditions place high significance on the storyteller’s sources and ability to contextualize tales; these aspects are notably absent.

Like a meteor shower on an overcast night, this book’s dazzling premise is ultimately obscured by a few fatal flaws. (Folktales. 6-11)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9505-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more