A tantalizing taste of the (literally) high life.

LETTERS FROM SPACE

A retired astronaut explains what life is like aboard the International Space Station.

Plainly based on memories of his own 5-month space-station mission in 2007, Anderson’s (fictive) letters to family and students not only make reference to scientific work and day-to-day routines, but positively fizz with the sense of being on a great adventure: “I fly to the bathroom—and I even fly when I’m going to the bathroom. So cool!” and “I was like one of those guys who fix wires on utility poles. But in SPACE!” Batori captures the exhilaration with cartoon scenes featuring a diverse crew of pop-eyed humans (plus one green extraterrestrial) in various orientations, joined by various imagined animals (“It would be neat to have a dog or a cat, but what a mess with no gravity!”), floating foodstuffs, and, following an eventual return to Earth, a cheering crowd at a “Welcome Home” party. The author closes with a more-detailed recap, so young readers with serious questions relating to the physiology of space adaptation syndrome are just as well served as those who are keenly interested in how long astronauts have to wear their underwear. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

A tantalizing taste of the (literally) high life. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-53411-074-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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