The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.

A look back at a child who loved to look at the stars and grew up to become the first U.S. astronaut to walk in space.

In Wellins’ rhymed narrative, and also Dawson’s views of a wide-eyed child and then man looking up and out in nearly every scene, biographical and technological details take a back seat to expressions of a bright and enduring sense of wonder—so that whether it was his mom or, later, Houston telling White it was time to cut the stargazing and come back inside, he always went “so slow…so slow.” The author ends by underscoring his attachment to family (“Moons and stars / are lovely places, / but not as nice as / children’s faces”), reserving mention of his tragic death in the Apollo 1 fire for the closing historical note. The astronaut and his family are White in the illustrations, but most of the figures placed around him as an adult at NASA and elsewhere are people of color. Readers will have to look elsewhere, in more-developed profiles of the Apollo missions or the late Kathleen Krull’s Fly High, John Glenn, illustrated by Maurizio A.C. Quarello (2020), for instance, for rounded pictures of the early space program’s heroes; White himself comes off here as a cardboard figure, but the main story is really the heights to which his profound fascination with the night sky led. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.   (timeline, photographs) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11804-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021


A gleeful game for budding naturalists.

Artfully cropped animal portraits challenge viewers to guess which end they’re seeing.

In what will be a crowd-pleasing and inevitably raucous guessing game, a series of close-up stock photos invite children to call out one of the titular alternatives. A page turn reveals answers and basic facts about each creature backed up by more of the latter in a closing map and table. Some of the posers, like the tail of an okapi or the nose on a proboscis monkey, are easy enough to guess—but the moist nose on a star-nosed mole really does look like an anus, and the false “eyes” on the hind ends of a Cuyaba dwarf frog and a Promethea moth caterpillar will fool many. Better yet, Lavelle saves a kicker for the finale with a glimpse of a small parasitical pearlfish peeking out of a sea cucumber’s rear so that the answer is actually face and butt. “Animal identification can be tricky!” she concludes, noting that many of the features here function as defenses against attack: “In the animal world, sometimes your butt will save your face and your face just might save your butt!” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gleeful game for budding naturalists. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271170

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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