An earnest seedling, this book never grows to its full potential.

READ REVIEW

STRETCH TO THE SUN

FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH

A small sprout grows for hundreds of years until it becomes a full-grown coast redwood.

When spring arrives in a redwood forest after a stormy winter, “POP! A tiny tree, / no bigger than a pinky finger, / sprouts from the stump of” a tree blown down in the previous spread. Calm, steady free verse details how the forest ecosystem works to nurture a redwood into maturity and includes industrial-era destruction and subsequent protection of redwood forests. (Pre-colonial interactions of Indigenous people with the trees go undepicted.) Mixed-media collages are busy and layered, conveying the density and life of a forest. Some minor inconsistencies are frustrating: In one portion of the backmatter the author notes that “the coast redwood community requests that we learn about these ancient champions from afar and allow them to grow undisturbed,” while the first bullet point in “HOW CAN YOU HELP?” is “hug a tree at a national or state park!” Readers are never given the context of the term “coast redwoods,” including that there are other redwood species. Key vocabulary such as “canopy,” “duff,” and “reiteration” are explained in the backmatter, while other terms—“debris,” “aurora borealis”—go undefined. An author’s note, additional paragraphs of explanatory text keyed to the primary narrative, selected bibliography, and further resources make up the backmatter.

An earnest seedling, this book never grows to its full potential. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-771-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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HOW THINGS WORK IN THE YARD

From birds and their nests to a hose and sprinkler, this attractive informational title presents 21 familiar objects that might be found in a young reader’s suburban yard. Clear, clean cut-paper illustrations in pleasingly unsaturated colors are laid out in double-page spreads on a background of colored graph paper. The minimal text is presented will in digestible bits. Acting as an example of a bird, a robin's body parts (eye, beak, feathers, etc.) are labeled, and a few fast facts (they "communicate with each other by singing," for example) are given. The range is surprisingly varied: animals such as snails, fireflies and ants; tools and toys such as a ball, a wagon and a bubble wand; dandelions, clouds and puddles; even rocks and dirt. Occasionally parts of humans are depicted; their skin colors vary. Ernst has a clear sense of what her young readers might notice and wonder about. She also helps them make connections. A caterpillar page is followed by one on a butterfly; acorn is followed by squirrel. Some, like clouds and puddles, appear on the same spread. The definitions and explanations are clear and simple, and the author sometimes suggests an activity: making a dandelion chain, catching fireflies, painting rocks, even jumping in puddles! A beguiling invitation to curious young readers and listeners to explore both the pages of the book and the world outside their doors. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60905-009-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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