An uplifting, valuable addition to the “scared of the dark” bookshelf and a must for the budding space explorer (or really,...

THE DARKEST DARK

Young Chris is afraid of the dark until he sees the Eagle land on the moon and is moved by the beauty of space.

By day, little Chris flies his cardboard rocket on important missions, fighting imaginary ETs and heading to Mars. But by night, the blond, white boy is struggling to sleep on his own, repeatedly waking his parents. Then on July 20, 1969, he witnesses Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk and realizes that while nothing in his dark room has changed, he has changed. Chris now wants “to explore every corner of the night sky.” Text and illustrations crescendo as the boy—whose bed is floating among fantastical imaginings in space—realizes that in the dark he is never alone, because he has dreams of possibility. The graphite illustrations, digitally colored in a cool palette, glow with a soft, luxurious sense of light. Full of rich texture and value, with captivating compositions and hidden hints, the artwork is stunning; however, the generic stylization of the main character’s face is disappointing given the amount of photographic referencing and meticulous detailing surrounding it. The book includes moving backmatter on astronaut and co-author Hadfield’s life, including photographs and illustrated mementos, and an inspiring message from Hadfield about the wonders of the night sky.

An uplifting, valuable addition to the “scared of the dark” bookshelf and a must for the budding space explorer (or really, any dreamer). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-39472-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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