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. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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


From the Baby University series

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: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.


From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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