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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The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting.

TEK

THE MODERN CAVE BOY

McDonnell has a bone to pick with a young Stone Age gamer who won’t leave the family cave.

The Caldecott Honor–winning cartoonist takes an uncharacteristically curmudgeonly tone in this tablet-shaped book. Depicted, in black-framed, rounded-cornered illustrations designed to look like screenshots, in front of the stone TV with tablet and game controller to hand “all day, all night, all the time,” Tek ignores the pleas of his huge dino best friend, Larry, and all others to come out. “You should never have invented the Internet,” his mom grunts to his dad. Having missed out on evolution and an entire Ice Age, Tek is finally disconnected by a helpful volcano’s eruption—and of course is completely reformed once he gets a gander at the warm sun, cool grass, and an “awesome Awesomesaurus.” “Sweet.” Afterward, in joyous full-bleed paintings, he frolics with Larry by day and reaches for the “glorious stars” by night. This screed is as subtle as a tap from a stone axe. James Proimos’ Todd’s TV (2010) and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by “Ann Droyd” (2014) are funnier; Matthew Cordell’s buoyant Hello! Hello! (2012) is more likely to spark a bit of behavior change. Tek and his parents are reminiscent of the Flintstones, with pink skin and dark, frizzy hair.

The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-33805-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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It breaks no new ground, but even the worms are smiling.

ONE LITTLE LOT

THE 1-2-3S OF AN URBAN GARDEN

One empty lot needs two helping hands, three days of cleanup, and so on to become a community garden “full of delicious!”

In, mostly, aerial or elevated views, Vidal’s bright, painted illustrations track the lot’s transformation from a (tidy-looking, admittedly) dumping ground behind a rusty chain-link fence. Echoing the multiethnic and multiracial nature of the group of neighbors who gather to do the work (white-presenting figures are in the minority), the eventual crops include bok choy, collard greens, and kittley along with beans, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes—all of which end up incorporated in the climactic spread into a community dinner spread out on tables among the planting boxes. Typically of such garden-themed picture-book tributes, the spirit of community and joy at the eventual bounty elbow out any real acknowledgement of the necessary sweat equity (there’s not even a glancing reference to weeding here, for instance) or the sense of an entire season’s passing between planting and harvest. Also, as that public feast is created by considerably more than “Ten newfound friends,” the counting is just a conceit. Mullen closes with notes on the actual garden in Minneapolis that inspired her and on making gardens bee-friendly.

It breaks no new ground, but even the worms are smiling. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58089-889-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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