An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick.

THERE WAS A BLACK HOLE THAT SWALLOWED THE UNIVERSE

Modeling a classic nursery song, a black hole does what a black hole does.

Ferrie reverses the song’s customary little-to-large order and shows frequent disregard for such niceties as actual rhymes and regular metrics. Also playing fast and loose with internal logic, she tracks a black hole as it cumulatively chows down, Pac-Man–style, on the entire universe, then galaxies (“It left quite a cavity after swallowing that galaxy”), stars, planets, cells, molecules, atoms, neutrons, and finally the ultimate: “There was a black hole that swallowed a quark. / That’s all there was. / And now it’s dark.” Then, in a twist that limits the audience for this feature to aging hippies and collectors of psychedelic posters, the author enjoins viewers to turn a black light (not supplied) onto the pages and flip back through for “an entirely different story.” What that might be, or even whether a filtered light source would work as well as a UV bulb, is left to anybody’s guess. The black hole and most of its victims sport roly-poly bodies and comically dismayed expressions in Batori’s cartoon illustrations—the universe in its entirety goes undepicted, unsurprisingly, and the quark never does appear, in the visible spectrum at least. This anthropomorphization adds a slapstick element that does nothing to pull the physics and the premise together.

An unpalatable mess left half-baked by an ill-conceived gimmick. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8077-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet.

MARS! EARTHLINGS WELCOME

From the Our Universe series , Vol. 5

Good news! Planet Marvelous is looking forward to visitors from Planet Awesome.

With the same exuberance that propelled readers deep into her Ocean! Waves for All (2020), illustrated by David Litchfield, and its three predecessors in the Our Universe series, McAnulty looks to the next planet out for a fresh set of enticing natural wonders. Billing itself a “party planet” (“I want to be the FIRST planet with human guests”), the russet raconteur trumpets its unique attractions. These range from moons Deimos and Phobos (“I know Earth is totally jealous”) to Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, which is “four times as deep as the Grand Canyon! And not nearly as crowded.” Sure, unlike Spirit, Opportunity, and other rovers, human visitors will have to pack their own water and oxygen in addition to traveling millions of miles…but given a few technological advances, soon enough it’ll be time to “get this party started!” Prospective tourists diverse of age and race are dancing already on Earth in a final scene in anticipation of a trip to our “reMARkable” neighbor. Quiz questions and a timeline cap an enticement that echoes Susanna Leonard Hill’s Mars’ First Friends: Come on Over, Rovers! (2020), illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, in its fizzy mix of fact and fancy. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Just the ticket for an armchair outing to the red planet. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25688-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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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