A stately recap drawing on current physics and astronomy and appropriately cognizant of their limitations.

THE BIG BANG BOOK

An astrophysicist goes back to our cosmic origins: “Once upon a time, / we don’t know.”

“Maybe it was dark. / Maybe there was nothing.” Carefully distinguishing verifiable fact from informed speculation, Stahl ushers readers past the first second of the Big Bang through the transformation of plasma to matter, then the appearance of swirling galaxies and their stars and planets, and finally to a planet that’s “just right” for “you. / And everyone else.” In her suitably dramatic illustrations, Allen-Fletcher modulates from flat black pages to shimmering blasts of light and fiery stellar nurseries that give way to a misty blue Earth, with an indistinct figure in a dim bedroom scene hung with glow-in-the-dark stars—and, accompanying the author’s suggestion that there may be more than one planet that’s “just right,” a pointy eared silhouette likewise looking up into a starlit sky. Unlike James Carter’s similarly wonder-infused Once Upon a Star, illustrated by Mar Hernández (2018), the dizzying notion that the Big Bang marked the beginnings of time and space themselves as well as matter goes unremarked here…but in an expansive afterword the author urges readers to ask big questions like “What am I?” and “Where am I?” because they “cut to the heart of how much we understand about the universe.”

A stately recap drawing on current physics and astronomy and appropriately cognizant of their limitations. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939547-64-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SPACE AND OTHER GALACTIC FACTS!

From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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