In a book that follows in the clearly defined footsteps of its predecessors, The Life and Times of the Apple (1992) and The Life and Times of the Honeybee (1995), Micucci takes a bemused, informative look at the subject of goobers, pinders, earth nuts, ground peas—peanuts. Surpassing trivia, a comprehensive gold mine of facts is well-organized and eye-catching, covering the origins, history, growth, uses, varieties, and even travels of the peanut. Ample emphasis is given to a kid-favorite in a chapter titled ``Three Thousand Years of Peanut Butter,'' which displays a timeline covering the South American Indians of 900 b.c., a discussion of peanut butter during WW II, and its use on Apollo space flights. The roles of the Incas and George Washington Carver in the history of the peanut are not overlooked. With an uncanny sense, Micucci knows what makes information accessible to kids, e.g., peanut-growing states and countries are measured in stacks of peanuts and a peanut butter company's 10,000-pound-per-hour production rate is pointedly compared to the weight of a full-grown elephant. The straightforward, stimulating style rises above the superficial, jam-packed, jazzy presentations of many information books for children, making this a captivating compendium, as wholesome and substantial as a peanut butter sandwich. (further reading) (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-72289-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself.


Rocket is on a mission…to get her angst-y teen brother to put down his cellphone and look up.

An aspiring astronaut, Rocket makes it a point to set up her telescope and gaze at the stars every night before bedtime. Inspired by Mae Jemison, Rocket, a supercute black girl with braids and a coiffed Afro, hopes to be “the greatest astronaut, star catcher, and space walker who has ever lived.” As the night of the Phoenix meteor shower approaches, Rocket makes fliers inviting everyone in her neighborhood to see the cosmic event at the park. Over the course of her preparations, she shares information about space-shuttle missions, what causes a meteor shower, and when is the best time to see one. Jamal, Rocket’s insufferable older brother, who sports a high-top fade and a hoodie, is completely engrossed in his phone, even as just about everybody in the neighborhood turns up. The bright, digital illustrations are an exuberant celebration of both space and black culture that will simultaneously inspire and ground readers. That the main characters are unapologetically black is made plain through myriad details. Rocket’s mother is depicted cornrowing her daughter’s hair with a wide-toothed comb and hair oil. Gap-toothed Rocket, meanwhile, makes her enthusiasm for space clear in the orange jumpsuit both she and her cat wear—and even Jamal’s excited by the end.

Outstanding—a breath of fresh air, just like Rocket herself. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9442-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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