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

THE STARS BECKONED

EDWARD WHITE'S AMAZING WALK IN SPACE

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. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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