Oceanic in scope—but clear and refreshing.



Tour the world of water with a helpful raindrop.

This intriguing, oversized title combines science and story to explore water in all its forms. Chapters of fact alternate with stories from #ownvoices contributors about water from all over the world: Vanuatu, India, England, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Peru, and St. Lucia. They’re based on or written in the form of traditional tales. Short biographies of the storytellers are part of the backmatter. But facts come first. Even before the first story, readers learn why they should care about this subject: 71% of our planet is covered in water, but less than 1% of that water is good for humans to drink! A world map (with labeled oceans and continents) serves as a kind of second table of contents, showing where the stories came from and pointing out the locations of some of the topics covered and some water wonders. Mihaly explores different water forms, the water cycle, the importance of water to life, salt and fresh water, water power, and water use and conservation. Fold-out page wings add further information; fold-up tabs reveal activities, experiments, and actions to preserve and protect water. Mihaly has a way with words; her explanations are clear and her language well chosen, with pleasing alliteration. (Glaciers are “massive, mountainous mounds of ice.”) She addresses readers directly, with respect for their capacity. Thoughtful, engaging design and lively illustrations add further appeal.

Oceanic in scope—but clear and refreshing. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64686-280-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A quick flight but a blast from first to last.


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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