Solid science concepts about seeds muddied by a segue into preschool pop-psych.

Lemniscates considers seeds, both as tiny biological powerhouses and metaphors for human potential.

“Seeds carry the power of life. / So they embark on amazing adventures.” Clear, stylized illustrations show seed dispersal, via wind and an ant colony. A double-page spread depicts the stages of a pumpkin seed from germination to blossoming. One vine—from one seed—“brings dozens of pumpkins. // And each pumpkin brings hundreds of seeds!” After examining an orchid’s progress from a tiny seed and observing that seeds can sprout in harsh conditions, Lemniscates swerves awkwardly into analogy. “A smile is a powerful seed. / … / But there are also seeds that bring anger and misunderstanding. / When those seeds grow, they pull us apart.” Indeed, two children formerly seen to be cooperating now engage in a tug of war over a basket of fruit they’ve picked. Bright pictures resemble a combination of print and collage, with swaths of textured color and snipped and applied shapes. Diversity is indicated by variations in hairstyle and skin tone. A harmonious conclusion shows a diverse group of friends playing ring-around-the-rosie accompanied by a vague address to readers: “Seeds have whole worlds inside them, / just like you.” While coaching from determined adults may enable young children to understand some of the metaphorical material, Lemniscates is on more solid ground with the clear botanical science that she introduces here.

Solid science concepts about seeds muddied by a segue into preschool pop-psych. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0844-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019


From the Baby University series

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020


A timely message in the wrong format.

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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