Interesting facts that go down smoothly

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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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick.

THERE WAS A BLACK HOLE THAT SWALLOWED THE UNIVERSE

Modeling a classic nursery song, a black hole does what a black hole does.

Ferrie reverses the song’s customary little-to-large order and shows frequent disregard for such niceties as actual rhymes and regular metrics. Also playing fast and loose with internal logic, she tracks a black hole as it cumulatively chows down, Pac-Man–style, on the entire universe, then galaxies (“It left quite a cavity after swallowing that galaxy”), stars, planets, cells, molecules, atoms, neutrons, and finally the ultimate: “There was a black hole that swallowed a quark. / That’s all there was. / And now it’s dark.” Then, in a twist that limits the audience for this feature to aging hippies and collectors of psychedelic posters, the author enjoins viewers to turn a black light (not supplied) onto the pages and flip back through for “an entirely different story.” What that might be, or even whether a filtered light source would work as well as a UV bulb, is left to anybody’s guess. The black hole and most of its victims sport roly-poly bodies and comically dismayed expressions in Batori’s cartoon illustrations—the universe in its entirety goes undepicted, unsurprisingly, and the quark never does appear, in the visible spectrum at least. This anthropomorphization adds a slapstick element that does nothing to pull the physics and the premise together.

An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8077-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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