Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling.

WAA'AKA'

THE BIRD WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE SUN

An #ownvoices creation story of the Indigenous people of Southern California, brimming with vivid imagery. This stunning picture book weaves gorgeous prose from Tongva author Alvitre with the evocative watercolors of illustrator Lake to convey an ancient story: first, how sacred plants came into being, and later, how the sun came to be in the heavens. Expressed through the relationship between Waa’aka’, the “sleek and beautiful” white bird, and Tamet, the sun, Tongva values such as collaboration and humility are emphasized through the animal characters—demonstrated handily by Owl, Kingfisher, and Raven and sorely missing within Waa’aka’, who turns out to be quite self-centered. As the narrative unfolds, a wide range of young readers will be enthralled by the tension between Waa’aka’ and her fellow birds, who work together to heave the sun into the cosmos while, secretly, Waa’aka’ attempts to sabotage the project in order to keep the sun for herself. The plan eventually succeeds; when Tamet is flung into the heavens, Waa’aka’ ascends with him, her pearly feathers accidentally burned by Tamet’s fire. With her ulterior motives exposed, Wiyot, the creator, relegates Waa’aka’ to a nocturnal existence, never to see the sun again. Lake’s paintings bloom with life, modulating between symbolic and realistic representation to convey the tale. Wiyot’s russet-colored hands appear throughout, emphasizing his role in creation. Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling. (foreword) (Picture book/cosmology. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59714-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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