A decent first nature activity book for use with preschool-age children.

READ REVIEW

THE NATURE CRAFT BOOK

From the Read, Learn & Create series

Information combines with easy crafts to introduce various types of plants and animals in this compilation.

Each spread introduces basic facts about a topic, such as “Birds,” “Birds in Winter,” “Owls,” “Twigs,” “Wildflowers,” “Insects,” and more. Collage-style illustrations in natural hues with pops of color—reds and oranges for squirrels, berries and fruits—display different species, each labeled clearly. On the recto of each spread, a craft based on its theme is described. Most of the crafts involve tracing a template from the book and then transferring the template onto colored paper before putting the pieces together. The crafts generally use inexpensive items that are easily found around the house, such as toilet-paper rolls and coat hangers. While some of the crafts are innovative and entertaining, such as a fluttering butterfly that rides on one’s finger or animal finger puppets, others, like a paper-plate fish, will likely garner only a little attention before winding up in the recycling. The information is easily read with a child, but the craft instructions are best suited for an adult reader who will demonstrate the craft for the child. The illustrations are certainly the best part about both this and its companion volume, The Ocean Craft Book.

A decent first nature activity book for use with preschool-age children. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-843-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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