A glowing liftoff for any child’s interest in matters astronomical.

THE SUN AND THE MOON

Fledgling readers curious about the lights in the sky will get an eyeful of the two brightest ones from this new entry in the venerable nonfiction series.

With both Common Core and  Next Generation Science Standards shaping her approach, DeCristofano invites interactive reading by making simple comparisons—the sun is visible by day and always round, for instance, while the moon is at least easier to view at night and changes shape—and offering several homespun projects or observational activities. Morley provides views of the moon’s phases (most of them anyway: “gibbous” doesn’t make the cut) and of our planet rotating from “day” to “night,” of robots and other “stuff from Earth” on the lunar surface, and of dramatically swirling solar flares. She also sends a boy and a girl, their skins different shades of light brown and her hair kinky, aboard a rocket into space for closer looks at the two heavenly bodies. Though the author’s cautions about looking directly at the sun don’t show up until the end, and in some illustrations the children’s unprotected skyward gazes seem dangerously direct, overall the content is accurate, presented with contagious enthusiasm, and carefully pitched to challenge but not daunt the intended audience.

A glowing liftoff for any child’s interest in matters astronomical. (further reading, website) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-233804-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Hurray for the underdog.

PLUTO GETS THE CALL

Heart (-shaped surface feature) literally broken by its demotion from planet status, Pluto glumly conducts readers on a tour of the solar system.

You’d be bummed, too. Angrily rejecting the suggestions of “mean scientists” from Earth that “ice dwarf” or “plutoid” might serve as well (“Would you like to be called humanoid?”), Pluto drifts out of the Kuiper Belt to lead readers past the so-called “real” planets in succession. All sport faces with googly eyes in Keller’s bright illustrations, and distinct personalities, too—but also actual physical characteristics (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”) that are supplemented by pages of “fun facts” at the end. Having fended off Saturn’s flirtation, endured Jupiter’s stormy reception (“Keep OFF THE GAS!”) and relentless mockery from the asteroids, and given Earth the cold shoulder, Pluto at last takes the sympathetic suggestion of Venus and Mercury to talk to the Sun. “She’s pretty bright.” A (what else?) warm welcome, plus our local star’s comforting reminders that every celestial body is unique (though “people talk about Uranus for reasons I don’t really want to get into”), and anyway, scientists are still arguing the matter because that’s what “science” is all about, mend Pluto’s heart at last: “Whatever I’m called, I’ll always be PLUTO!”

Hurray for the underdog. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1453-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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