A mindful realization of many elements makes a useful centering guide.

READ REVIEW

STARS BEFORE BEDTIME

A MINDFUL FALL-ASLEEP BOOK

From the Before Bedtime series

The ritual of a bedtime story pairs with activities to calm body and mind.

Children of various racial presentations perform mindfulness exercises just before bedtime. The text promises a “goodbye to the wriggles and the fidgets” and to “let the calm feelings in.” Most of the double-page spreads contain two key elements: a greatly abbreviated account of a classic Greek myth that inspired particular constellations, complete with literal and symbolic images of the stars, and instructions for mindfulness exercises that relate to the tale in some way, textually identified by a lavender crescent moon. Activities include conscious breathing, body stretches, and/or visual imagery. For example, the page with Draco the snakelike dragon accompanies an exercise to stretch out on the bed then breathe out with a hiss. “Notes for Grown-Ups” bookend the text, relating suggested reading strategies and the benefits of mindfulness. The tales are made kid-friendly (“Zeus fell in love again”) but include just the barest minimum of storyline. There is a nice variety of calming exercises with easy transitions from the tales, forming a cohesive presentation. Blues and yellows blanket the pages, with accenting pinks, creams, and browns. The pictures appear as if they were sometimes made with crayon or cut paper, helping to create a childlike style, with lots of details to peruse in the backgrounds of bedrooms or night skies.

A mindful realization of many elements makes a useful centering guide. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5557-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.

STARRY SKIES

LEARN ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS ABOVE US

Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel.

GREEN MACHINE

THE SLIGHTLY GROSS TRUTH ABOUT TURNING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS INTO GREEN ENERGY

An introduction to the innovative (and smelly) processes that turn municipal food waste into electrical energy.

Donnelly follows the journey of food scraps from kitchen through composting bin and collection truck to a municipal digester, where the waste undergoes both human-engineered and microbe-assisted transformations. The author subjects her text to syllabic verse in rhymed triplets, a choice that places meter above clarity. Describing the digester, she writes: “A place where the waste / isn’t wasted: a tank / with the power to power our town, / where trash becomes gas, / and good riddance—that stank! / That’s the power of food breaking down.” Jacques’ illustrations adopt a retro, mid-20th-century look. Cutaways reveal the simplified inner works of the digester tank and electrical generator. Diverse workers are depicted in rather static poses; the featured family members have dark hair, varied brown skin tones, and minimally rendered, dot-and-comma facial features. “Tiny” microbes appear as large, colorful critters with googly eyes and smiles; there’s no indication that in reality they’re invisible to human eyes. A double-page summary (“Follow the Food Energy!”) reuses illustrations from previous pages to illustrate the food-to-electricity process. Within two concluding pages of facts, fossil fuels are characterized as “nonrenewable,” without mention of their dominant role in the climate crisis.

Constrained verse distracts from timely, basic information about transforming food into fuel. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30406-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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