THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CORN

Micucci, who has closely examined the apple, the peanut, the honeybee and most recently the ant (The Life and Times of the Ant, 2003, etc.), now turns to the largest crop in America—corn. Who knew those little kernels contained so much history and lore? In a conversational and lively narrative, the author follows the growth, cultivation and shocking number of uses of this “a-maize-ing” plant. Sensitive to children’s sensibilities, he delights in explaining large statistics—bushels are stacked high, each equaling 100,000,000, to represent leading corn producers. Plus, he carefully explains, if all 125,000 square miles of cultivated cornfields were put together, “corn” would be the fifth largest of the United States! In a clear, logical order, punctuated by timelines, maps and fun corn facts, the author introduces the history and life cycle of this staple. Columbus sought gold when he came to the New World; little did he know how much those yellow kernels were really worth. (sources, acknowledgements) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-50751-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

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 SAYS LOOK UP!

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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