The die cuts dividing water from land are vulnerable to little hands, but their value more than delivers.

READ REVIEW

WATER LAND

LAND AND WATER FORMS AROUND THE WORLD

As the subtitle indicates, Hale contrasts five water forms with five landforms in her minimalist informational picture book.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, a child revels in a windy swirl of falling maple leaves against a butter-yellow background, while on the recto another lounges in a boat on a small, clear blue body of water. The word “lake” is printed in boldface type above that body of water, the color precisely matching that of the water. Turning the page, readers see the lake is actually a die cut: the lake-shaped hole from the previous page is now an island-shaped hole, filled in with the yellow background from the previous spread. The word “island” sits underneath, its color matching the sands of the landform it represents. Hale’s art is playful and appealing but never overwhelming or distracting as she uses the die cuts and precise color to establish unmistakable visual connections. A diversity of skin tones and implied genders are included in each spread, although there is no diversity of body shape nor visual hints at disability. Logically, the concepts depend on forms where land and water meet: lake and island, bay and cape, strait and isthmus, system of lakes and archipelago, gulf and peninsula. An end foldout provides a map, form definitions, and example locations across the globe.

The die cuts dividing water from land are vulnerable to little hands, but their value more than delivers. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15244-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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