A lively once-over that gets further beneath the skin of its subject than first glances might suggest.

CELLS

AN OWNER'S HANDBOOK

A stylish introduction to the structures and functions of cells, starting on “the derrière of a Boston terrier.”

Congratulating readers on being the owners of “37 trillion high-performance cells,” canine skin cell Ellie defines them as the difference between living and nonliving things. She then goes on to explain that each “itty-bitty building block” from red blood cell to sperm and egg has one or more jobs, how mitochondria and other organelles contribute to the effort, and (with help from a “cellfie”) how cells make more cells. Fisher incorporates text large and small in hand-lettered styles into swirling, exuberant painted images that more often suggest rather than clinically depict various sorts of cells and creatures made up of them; they definitely capture the breezy vein of the cellular tour, however. Ellie doesn’t get to a few things—meiosis, for instance, or viruses—but she covers considerable territory…and once she’s done (“I gotta split!”), the author finishes off with jokes, a source note for the “37 trillion” claim, and leads to more-detailed surveys of the topic.

A lively once-over that gets further beneath the skin of its subject than first glances might suggest. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5185-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Confusing topical drift muddles this quick but creditable dip into Newtonian physics.

MATTER

PHYSICAL SCIENCE FOR KIDS

A first introduction to what matter is—and isn’t.

Setting off on a potentially confusing tangent at the outset, Diehn opens with a discourse on how we use the word “matter” in common speech—as in “What’s the matter?” or “That doesn’t matter.” Following a perfunctory segue she then launches into her actual subject with a simple but not simplistic definition (“Matter is anything that takes up space and can be weighed”). She continues with easy-to-follow explanations of how matter (even air) can be weighed, how it comes in the states of solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, and finally how light is not matter but something else. Companion volumes on Energy, Forces, and Waves offer overviews that are likewise lucid, albeit similarly muddied by strained and, in the end, irrelevant word usages. All four surveys include questions and simple activities for readers. Shululu illustrates all four with a cast of wide-eyed, cherry-nosed figures of varying skin colors and their floppy-eared dog in active poses and, usually, outdoor settings.

Confusing topical drift muddles this quick but creditable dip into Newtonian physics. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61930-642-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nomad Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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