Interesting facts that go down smoothly

READ REVIEW

JUST LIKE US! PLANTS

From the Just Like Us! series

“People think, talk, and walk around. Plants do none of these things. So how can they be anything like us?”

Wisely anticipating the first question readers will have upon encountering this latest in her Just Like Us! series, Heos opens with it and proceeds to make her case. Plants and people both love basking in the sun and eating—but in the case of plants, they are both the same thing. People and plants both need water. Some people and some plants eat meat. “With the right mix of sunlight, water, and nutrition, plants grow up and have babies—just like people.” While some of these similarities are admittedly a stretch—and the imputation of motive and strategy to plants even more of one—the engaging device leads readers into an easy presentation of botanical facts laced with just the right details to keep them hooked (foul odors figure prominently). Unfolding topic by topic, the single- and double-page spreads are illustrated with Clark’s over-the-top cartoons. One spread on plant self-defense presents angry tomatoes spraying poison on a caterpillar (a caterpillar’s munch triggers the production of a toxin) and a butterfly with two Frankenstein-esque heads (African bugleweed can cause mutations). A one-page glossary defines such terms as “hydrochloric acid” and “prickle”; a bibliography includes both books and online resources, most aimed at adults. Just Like Us! Fish publishes simultaneously.

Interesting facts that go down smoothly . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-57094-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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